Remember all those formal photographs of Secretary of State John Kerry and his team engaged in top level negotiations with the Iranians?

Of course it was all very complicated, and now it appears that in the rush to get a deal, any deal, the secretary may have overlooked a detail,  the small matter of U.S. law. Fox has a scoop that "some senior officials" have concluded that key sanctions relief provisions violate U.S. law Well, nobody's perfect.  

Fox's James Rosen reports:

Some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal have privately concluded that a key sanctions relief provision – a concession to Iran that will open the doors to tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with the Islamic regime – conflicts with existing federal statutes and cannot be implemented without violating those laws, Fox News has learned.

At issue is a passage tucked away in ancillary paperwork attached to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known. Specifically, Section 5.1.2 of Annex II provides that in exchange for Iranian compliance with the terms of the deal, the U.S. “shall…license non-U.S. entities that are owned or controlled by a U.S. person to engage in activities with Iran that are consistent with this JCPOA.”

In short, this means that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies will, under certain conditions, be allowed to do business with Iran. The problem is that the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, was explicit in closing the so-called “foreign sub” loophole.

Indeed, ITRA also stipulated, in Section 218, that when it comes to doing business with Iran, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent firms shall in all cases be treated exactly the same as U.S. firms: namely, what is prohibited for U.S. parent firms has to be prohibited for foreign subsidiaries, and what is allowed for foreign subsidiaries has to be allowed for U.S. parent firms.

An additional stipulation of ITRA is that the president must certify that Iran has been removed from the State Department's list of terrorist nations and also that Iran has stopped trying to develop or obtain weapons of mass destruction. Fat chance on second, but have you noticed that there has been an effort in some official documents to tone down acknowledgement that Iran as a terrorist nation lately?

The key word in the first sentence of Fox's report may be "privately." Some senior officials are "privately concluding" that elements of sanctions relief violate federal law. Are they going to do more than "conclude privately?"

The story concludes that the apparent violation of federal law might pave the way for legal challenges in court. And that is the way it is in President Obama's Washington.