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Right Turn
Posted at 02:15 PM ET, 02/08/2012

Where are we headed with Iran sanctions?

Adam Kredo reports:

An Iranian official closely tied to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has released a detailed plan to attack Israel, according to a Middle East media monitoring site.
Alireza Forghani, an Iranian politician and staunch ally of the regime, recently released an article titled, “Iran Must Attack Israel by 2014,” according to the Middle East Media Research Institute.
The article comes amid an ongoing media debate about whether the Iranian regime’s rhetoric against Israel is as homicidal as some claim. Forghani’s article offers definitive proof that Iran is determined to annihilate the Jewish state.
While some in the American media would downplay the regime’s murderous language, observers on Capitol Hill are viewing Iran with growing alarm.
“When the outrageous rhetoric from Ahmadinejad and people like Forghani is coupled with the capability, with nuclear weapons, to actually destroy the Jewish State of Israel, we can’t afford to dismiss what they are repeatedly telling the world,” said a Capitol Hill aide who tracks Iran. “The Hill is taking the threat from Iran very seriously.”

However, it is not apparent how clearly the Obama administration understands the Iranian regime’s intentions. Is its purpose just to stave off a military attack by Israel? To get Iran back to the bargaining table for more fruitless negotiations?

The Associated Press reports:

The faster and more painfully sanctions can be seen to work, the better the case to shelve any plan by Israel to bomb Iran, a preemptory move that could ignite a new Mideast war. Taking this initial step against [Iran’s] Central Bank, the first time the U.S. has directly gone after that major institution, is one way the Obama administration can show momentum now.
Israel, meanwhile, has been increasingly open about its worry that Iran could be on the brink of a bomb by this summer and that this spring offers the last window to destroy bomb-related facilities. Many Israeli officials believe that sanctions only give time for Iran to move its nuclear program underground, out of reach of Israeli military strikes.

Meanwhile, critics of the administration are increasingly worried that, in downplaying talk of a military option and dangling the hope for a “diplomatic” solution, the president is headed for a diplomatic morass — either because he naively thinks there is a deal to be made or because he doesn’t want conflict in an election year. Jamie Fly of the Foreign Policy Initiative tells me, “To accept this regime as a serious negotiating partner at this point is ludicrous and will only give them more time to enrich uranium and take the final steps towards a nuclear weapons capability. Just as serious sanctions are finally being implemented is the worst time to ease the pressure.”

Mike Singh of the Washington Institute also cautions: “I think that the real risk is that Iran will once again use talks simply to delay and distract, rather than for a serious discussion of international concerns regarding its nuclear activities. The Iranian regime has a strong incentive to dissipate the considerable momentum of the sanctions campaign.”

This, in fact, has been the inherent flaw at the center of the sanctions approach, especially with a U.S. administration that previously showed no spine in adhering to negotiating deadlines. It would seem that congressional oversight is more important than ever.

The administration should be queried: What’s the endgame here? Does it believe that negotiations at this point would do anything other than provide the mullahs more time to work on their nuclear weapons capability? How long will it take to assess if sanctions are “working”? Not only do we not currently have answers to these questions, but I strongly suspect the administration does not either. And that is most troubling of all.

By  |  02:15 PM ET, 02/08/2012

Categories:  Iran, President Obama

 
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