Sunday, December 02, 2012

White House Opposes New Iran Sanctions Approved By The Senate 94-0


The Obama White House is now opposing new, stricter sanctions against Iran after the U.S. Senate approved them 94-0:

The White House announced its opposition to a new round of Iran sanctions that the Senate unanimously approved Friday, in the latest instance of Congress pushing for more aggressive punitive measures on Iran than the administration deems prudent.

On Thursday, Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which the Senate passed 94-0. The new legislative language would blacklist Iran's energy, port, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors, while also placing new restrictions on Iran's ability to get insurance for all these industries. The legislation would also vastly expand U.S. support for human rights inside Iran and impose new sanctions on Iranians who divert humanitarian assistance from its intended purpose.

"The window is closing. The time for the waiting game is over," Menendez said on the Senate floor Thursday night. "Yes, our sanctions are having a demonstrable effect on the Iranian economy, but Iran is still working just as hard to develop nuclear weapons."

But the White House told several Senate offices Thursday evening that the administration was opposed to the amendment. National Security Spokesman Tommy Vietor sent The Cable the administration's official position, explaining the White House's view the sanctions aren't needed and aren't helpful at this time.

"As we focus with our partners on effectively implementing these efforts, we believe additional authorities now threaten to undercut these efforts," he said. "We also have concerns with some of the formulations as currently drafted in the text and want to work through them with our congressional partners to make the law more effective and consistent with the current sanctions law to ensure we don't undercut our success to date."

The real story, of course is that the new sanctions threaten to undercut the administration's ability to water them down by issuing waivers to most countries on abiding by them..just as they did with the last set of sanctions. That's why. although there's been a certain amount of economic turmoil, it hasn't stopped Iran from pursuing its illegal nuclear weapons program one iota:

One of the White House's chief concerns is that Congress is not providing the administration enough waivers, which would give the United States the option of negating or postponing applications of the sanctions on a case-by-case basis.

The White House also said that secondary sanctions should apply only to those Iranian persons and entities that are guilty of aiding Iran's nulear and missile programs. The new legislative language would designate entire categories of Iranian government entities to be sanctioned -- whether or not each person or entity is directly involved in such activities.{...}

"The truth is that the U.S. Congress continues to lead a comprehensive and unrelenting international sanctions program against the Iranian regime despite a comprehensive and unrelenting campaign by this administration to block or water down those sanctions at every move," a senior GOP Senate aide told The Cable. "We beat them 100-0 last year and while they tried to kill this amendment more quietly this time, we beat them again 94-0. Hopefully House and Senate negotiators will stay strong and resist the administration's strategy to dilute these sanctions in conference."

Actually, if the Obama Administration really wanted to stop Iran's nuclear program in a heartbeat, all they'd have to do would be to forbid any U.S. bank from doing transactions with any bank processing Iran's oil payments, or any insurance company insuring Iran's oils shipments from doing business with American citizens or financial outlets.

That's exactly how President George W. Bush dealt with outlets like the BCCI that were financing terrorism, and it's one of the few things he got right. The world's banking system is still wired into New York, and the inability to process oil payments or insure cargoes would pretty much end the game.Even the Russians and the Turks would have to comply.

Instead, we've been tasking half measures while the centrifuges turn and having them undercut by the President Obama and his team, sheer foreign policy geniuses that they are.

And this is just another example.


rtechie said...

The White House opposes the sanctions because they limit the US' ability to negotiate. The President can't just wave his hand and declare the laws passed by Congress to be invalid. There are no conditions on these sanctions, they're permanent.

This kind of meddling by Congress in foreign affairs doesn't help. For example, It's still the official policy of the USA to overthrown the government of Iran. The US has to disavow that official position in negotiations, otherwise why would Iran negotiate at all?

Critics don't seem to get that the political track isn't the only thing happening here. There has been extensive covert warfare against Iran's nuclear program (assassinations, bombings, computer viruses, etc.), which hasn't worked.

Most of the people critical of the sanctions regime simply want to attack Iran. Which also won't work, otherwise the Israelis would have already done so.

Nobody thought it was a good idea to bomb North Korea to prevent them from getting nukes because that wouldn't have worked either.

The reality is that whether pundits like it or not, the United States can't force Iran to abandon it's nuclear program. The US is going to have to convince Iran to do so and the US can't do that if their hands are tied by Congress.

Frankly, I think this is all just political posturing by the US (by that I mean both sides, Romney and Obama had 100% identical positions on Iran) to make Israel feel better. The US clearly isn't seriously negotiating with Iran, it's all "sticks" and no "carrots".

BTW: BCCI went down in 1991, long before Bush 43 was president. Under Bush 43's administration (and Clinton's, and Obama's) numerous major US banks have been involved in money laundering and specifically helped Iran (and Iraq) evade sanctions, they were punished with small fines.

Rob said...

A very curious point of view.You have problems with the Iranian regime being taken out?

Here we have a country that has consistently declared itself at war with America since 1979, has committed outright acts of war against the US including being complicit in 9/11 and arming, financing and training various groups actually firing on our troops and there are actually still people who doubt Iran's intentions!

Apparently some of them are in the White House.

The thinking expressed in the above comment is exactly why Iran is still actively pursuing its illegal nuclear weapons program. Iran's clandestine nuclear program has been publicly known for 8 years now, even though the former head of the IAEA, El Baradi did his best to cover for them.

No attempt at negotiations, even on proposals advanced by the Russians has been successful, for the simple reason that the Iranians have no intention of negotiating.They never have. And there is no ' bargain' that Shi'ite Muslims might make with people they consider infidels that we could trust any way. The entire charade is simply designed to buy time and run out the clock until Iran has an operable nuclear weapon.

As I pointed out, the sanctions (which were weak to begin with) have been consistently watered down by the Obama Administration with multiple waivers for the simple reason that this president and his team obviously feel that Iran getting its hands on nuclear weapons is no urgent matter.

They will certainly learn differently if things go that far.

And I wouldn't comfort myself that this is 'just Israel's problem'. It isn't. As history shows us, this kind of fascist aggression never stops with them uppity Jews.Or as the Iranians love to chant 'First the Little Satan, then the Great Satan'.

As to forcing Iran to forgo its nuclear ambitions, you're quite correct, there's no negotiation possible (or as you put it, 'convincing them') to give up their illegal program.Which contradicts your other point that Obama wants to negotiate, BTW.

Realistic sanctions of the kind I describe might be one way, but watered down Obama-style fakery will almost certainly necessitate doing it by force, now when it's somewhat less painful or later when the cost will be much higher.Those are the choices.

FWIW, a number of fairly eminent military and security analysts disagree with you as far as the feasibility of Israel taking out a fair amount of Iran's nuclear facilities with a pre-emptive strike, let alone America's ability to do so.

So do I.There are various reasons why they haven't, but if they're pushed into it, they will.

B.Poster said...


Iran's official position is "death to America" and "we will crush the U.S." Since this is Iran's position and has been for some time, it would seem only prudent that the offical policy of America should be to overthrow the Iranian government.

It would be imprudent to "disavow" the position until Iran disavows its offical position. After all the US position only arose as a result of the Iranian position. Not wishing to be destroyed or crushed the US likely felt it needed an offical position to overthrow the Iranian government.

Additionally, it would prudent on the part of the Americans to actually put some teeth into the so called offical position. The Iranians know Ameria is not serious and they act accordingly.

When one negotiates, generally speaking one tries to go into the negotiations with something working in their favor. The Americans know Iranian agents and very likely Revolutionary Guard forces who are already operating on American soil can carry out devestating attacks on the American main land at a moments notice. The American side will act accordingly in any negotiations. America needs to have something it can use as well when it goes into negotiations.

To disavow the official position would be imprudent. At a minimum, before disavowing the offical position, American negotiaters should insist that Iran reveal the locations and tactical strengths of the forces it has in the US as well assist it in disarming such forces, as well as publically disavowing its official position.

Failure to insist upon these minimum requirements would be a bit like "throwing one's self on the mercy of the court." This does not work well nor would America throuwing itself on the tender mercies of Iran work very well.

While the covert actions against he Iranian nuclear weapons program have not stopped the program, they have very likely slowed it down significanlty. In general, the actions are far to sophisticated to have been carried out by the CIA or any other American intellegence service. Its likely being done by Israeli agents working closely with undercover Iranians inside the country.

As for the notion that Israel would have taken military action already, they certainly could have and still could but they are trying to resolve the problem through diplomacy according to the wishes of America and Western Europe. By acting in this manner, a serious problem has become even worse.

In regards to your last paragraph about the banks who assisted Iran and Iraq receiving only minimal punishment. this is harldy surprising. There is a significant "fifth column" in the US that actively supports Iran and supported Saddam's Iraq. As such, manipulating the justice system would be quite easy for them. Also, why do you think the media has worked tirelessly to undercut any kind of a military option against Iran and worked tirelessly to undermine Operation Iraqi Freedom? I suspect its the highly influential groups who support these entities.

There are additional problems with negotiating with Iran as well. These are at least two fold. 1.)America faces intense and very often hostile scrutiny from the world media. As such, it would be impossible for America to violate any agreements it makes with Iran even if it wanted to. Iran does not face this scrutiny. As such, there is, at this time, no real way to ensure Iranian compliance with any agreement. Soem type of mechanism to ensure Iranian compliance needs to be insisted upon by American negotiaters. 2.)It would be good if we could move all outstanding claims either country has against the other dating back to at least just after WWII to the ICC or some other international body for a settlement and a resolution but there is a HUGE problem. At this time, I see no way or America can get a fair trial or enforce any judgements the courts might make against Iran.