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Congress Objects to Feckless Iran Policy

AIPAC is touting letters signed by 76 senators and 363 House members calling for tougher action on Iran. They really do want “crippling sanctions.” The House version explains:

Iran’s nuclear weapons program represents a severe threat to American national interests. Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons could lead to the proliferation of these weapons throughout the Middle East and beyond, destabilizing the global non-proliferation regime and greatly increasing the likelihood of such weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. It would also dramatically expand Iranian influence and threaten our allies in the region. It would undercut prospects for peace between Israel and her neighbors, with emboldened Iranian surrogates enjoying the strategic backing of an Iranian nuclear umbrella. And it would pose an existential threat to the State of Israel.

Iran is making steady progress in its nuclear program. It now has stored enough low enriched uranium to serve as the core for two nuclear weapons. It will soon be able to install much more advanced and efficient centrifuges. Iran has recently begun to enrich uranium to twenty percent fissile. Its weaponization program now appears to be at an advanced stage.

Mr. President, you have stated this issue is a priority for your administration. You have attempted to engage the Iranian regime for over a year. You have gone to the United Nations Security Council in an effort to impose tough new sanctions on Iran. But time is not on our side. We cannot allow those who would oppose or delay sanctions to govern either the timing or content of our efforts. As you said last July, we cannot wait until we “wake up one day and find ourselves in a much worse situation and unable to act.”

What do they want? First, “We call on you to fulfill your June 2008 pledge that you would do ‘everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.’” (No more que sera, sera.) Second, they want Obama “to reverse the practice under which the US government has awarded at least $107 billion over the past decade in federal contracts to companies investing in or doing business in Iran” and to gather support for “crippling sanctions.” And finally, they advise the president that they are proceeding with the Iran sanctions measure making its way through the House and Senate and that “by imposing punishing measures on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, rocking Iran’s banking system, and dramatically impacting Iran’s ability to import or refine petroleum” they can force the Iranians to choose between pursuing its nuclear program and “possible reconciliation.”

But we know much of this isn’t going to happen. The president has already let the cat out of the bag — he’s no longer saying that he’ll do whatever it takes to prevent the mullahs from getting the bomb. His apparent resignation to the distinct possibility that Iran will not respond to his entreaties isn’t going to be erased from the public record. What — now he’s going to say, “I really didn’t mean to sound so blasé”? And we’ve already heard from him and from Medvedev that the sanctions won’t be crippling. So that leaves the unilateral sanctions by the U.S. Do we think Obama will actually implement those? It would only highlight how insufficient are the possible mini-sanctions under consideration by the UN.

It’s nice to see Congress go on record. But it’s a tall order to wrest control of foreign policy from the executive branch. For now, Obama appears entirely averse to employing a “whatever it takes” strategy. We know it, Congress knows it, and the mullahs know it. Until that changes, it is only a matter of time before the Islamic revolutionary state acquires its nuclear bomb — and the entire Middle East embarks on a deadly arms race. It sure will throw cold water on Obama’s whole nonproliferation effort, won’t it?



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