For boosting his potential agreement with Iran, President Obama is pushing for sanctions to be delayed, which both party lawmakers are adamantly opposing. Republican and Democratic lawmakers agree that tougher economic pressure on Iran is necessary due to the progress they had made with their nuclear program.
The Obama administration tried to waylay this issue and were discussing a temporary agreement that would permit Iran over a six month period to enrichment limited uranium during the negotiations.
Six Republican senators proposed an amendment to a defense spending bill that would introduce a new round of sanctions on Iran. The amendment, offered by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Il) and co-sponsored by five other Republican senators, targets the remaining money Iran has in overseas bank accounts, most of which comes from the sale of oil.
Attached to the National Defense Authorization Act, the amendment would sanction any bank that allows Iran to spend revenue in overseas accounts on items besides food and medicine, and lays out what steps Congress would need to see in any interim agreement with Iran.
The amendment also states any such interim agreement must require Iran to stop the enrichment of uranium, a condition of earlier U.N. Security Council resolutions.
President Obama’s administration and Secretary of State Kerry have been lobbying against increasing sanctions on Iran — justifying a decision to start the process of loosening sanctions without Iran having to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure.
The president has asked Congress to hold off on any new sanctions bill in order to allow the Geneva negotiations an opportunity to succeed.
Obama stated that Iran would gain progress in its ability to build a nuclear weapon if a diplomatic deal is not obtained in order to halt or roll back its nuclear program.
Israel forewarned against any sanctions relief on Iran until Iran begins to dismantle the thousands of centrifuges it has built in Natanz and Qom. Israel believes until Iran begins to roll back its capability to quickly produce the highly enriched fuel needed for a nuclear weapon sanctions should remain in place.
The implications of delaying the Senate from creating new sanctions gives Iran the opportunity to install more centrifuges, enrich more uranium and improve their nuclear capability.
White House Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters at a press briefing, “The president underscored that in the absence of a first step, Iran will continue to make progress on its nuclear program by increasing its enrichment capacity, continuing to grow its stockpile of enriched uranium,installing advanced centrifuges, and making progress on the plutonium track.”
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Il.) said, “If Iran is capable of negotiating while violating international law, the United States should be equally capable of negotiating while imposing new sanctions pressure.”
The world powers were hoping for a breakthrough over Tehran’s nuclear program that would satisfy Washington, Israel and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Geneva meeting occurs amid heightened turmoil in the Middle East after twin suicide bombings outside the Iranian Embassy in Beirut killing at least 23 people on Tuesday.
Naturally Iran blamed Israel and its “mercenaries” yet, ten days after said drama the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany have been optimistic that a deal is possible this time.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, posted a conciliatory but defiant message ahead of the meeting stated that there was “every possibility for success”.
President Obama was more circumspect, telling a Wall Street Journal CEO forum on Tuesday: “I don’t know if we will be able to close a deal this week or next week.”
The president’s foreign-policy team is determined to suppress the dissent Israelis and Saudi Arabians have about Washington’s desire to strike an interim deal with Iran that would leave the regime’s nuclear program and its “right” to enrich uranium.
Secretary Kerry stated in response to Israel’s justifiable concerns that, “Nothing that we are doing here, in my judgment, will put Israel at any additional risk. In fact, let me make this clear: We believe it reduces risk.”
The WH administration had succeeded in their delays of sanctions which only paves the way for Iran’s nuclear program. The Senate decided to recess until after Thanksgiving, giving Secretary Kerry the opportunity to get his deal in front of Congress.
After the meeting, six senators wrote to Kerry urging the administration not to accept any deal that would ease sanctions without rolling back Iran’s progress toward gaining a nuclear weapon.
“If we are reducing sanctions, Iran should be reducing its nuclear capabilities,” they wrote, specifically voicing their awareness that a proposal would let Iran access frozen capital without making major concessions.
Furthermore, the administration seemed to be more criticizing of the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which only fuels Iran’s fire to not settle and to push the envelope further.
Alienating both Israel and moderate Arab states by treating their justifiable concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions as secondary, is putting America in a precarious position.
The White House needs to be most cautious, because the administration is the one that sets the tone and an agreement that is not suitable for our allies can set a series of events that no one will be able to influence or stop.
Iran has repeatedly stated — mockingly of the presidet — that their “red line” in negotiations is maintaining their nuclear option and leaving Washington willing only to turn to economic sanctions.
Senator Kirk’s amendment would give U.S. diplomats in Geneva the leverage the lawmakers are asking for. He stated, “Sanctions remain the best way to avoid war and prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. This proposal will give our diplomats the increased leverage they need to get a good deal at the negotiating table—a deal that peacefully brings Iran into full compliance with its international obligations.”
For well over a decade Iran has been intent on having a nuclear weapon and to believe they have any intention of giving up now when they are so close to their goal, is ludicrous.
President Hassan Rouhani has already driven a wedge between the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. Majority of Israelis already believe that President Obama has either lied or is withholding information from them.
Obama is tipping his hand to the Iranians by showing his fervency for striking a deal. Amid heightening tensions with two key allies and alienating a key domestic constituency, Obama may be fanning the flames of the Iranian negotiating position more than he understands.
The president’s disposition has given Iran’s leader a reason to hold out for even better terms than what is being offered.
The regime’s “boss” Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has made it crystal clear that he does not respect President Obama, the “paper tiger,” nor their diplomatic efforts, viewing the United States’ resolve as weak. Khamenei said: “They intend to ratchet up the pressure on Iran. Iranians will succumb to no one under pressure.”
In a speech given by Khamenei to well over ten thousand volunteer Basij militiamen in Tehran, broadcasted live on Iran’s Press TV, said Iran will “not step back one iota from our rights.” Khamenei’s audience responded with chants of “Death to America.”
Hearing Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei call our allies the “rabid dog,” is not very comforting. If at all any deal is made, Iran gives credibility to those suspicious that the Iranian’s will honor said deal. Iran is not known for their ability to holding their end of the bargain and to make our allies sign such a deal that favors Iran instead of them, will lead to dangerous consequences.
Netanyahu supports the initiative by France to strike a deal in which Iran complies with demands laid out by a U.N. Security Council resolution:
- Suspend enrichment of uranium.
- Halt production and installation of additional centrifuges.
- Transfer uranium enriched to 20% or higher to another country.
- Halt construction of a plutonium reactor that can produce weapons-grade plutonium.
Netanyahu believes anything less than what the Security Council demanded of Iran will be a “historic error” that heightens the risk of war. Israel will not allow Iran to have nuclear capability and will attack militarily if needed to stop such an outcome.
Committee Chairman Representative Ed Royce (R-CA) stated: “The United States cannot allow Iran to continue to advance toward a nuclear weapons capability while at the same time providing relief from the sanctions pressure we worked so hard to build.”
Netanyahu told German newspaper Bild that Iran already has five bombs’ worth of lower enriched uranium and could convert it in a matter of weeks to weapons-grade uranium. He said last week a “bad deal” that lets Iran off the hook will lead to the military option, the very option the world is trying to avoid.
The end result is a lack of trust that will only undermine Middle East stability and make it less likely anyone will heed the president’s warnings or advice even if Iran goes nuclear.
If there is to be a deal in place it should demand the complete dismantlement of all nuclear capability from Iran, putting a stop on Iran’s enrichment of uranium — they do not have a “right” when they have no respect to either our allies or the United States.