Commentary Magazine


Who Deserves Credit for Iran Sanctions?

President Obama is getting heaps of praise for the tough Iranian bank sanctions he ordered today. But lost in the pro-Obama media coverage are the names of the two lawmakers who made these sanctions happen: Sens. Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez.

The Kirk-Menendez bill – which was signed into law by Obama in December only after he fought for it be watered down – actually required the president to sign the executive order implementing these sanctions. In fact, Obama waited over a month after he signed the law to actually comply with it.

The president’s attempt to take sole credit for the sanctions is drawing understandable criticism on the Hill. A senior congressional aide who helped craft the Iran sanctions legislation, fumed: “After taking more than a month to comply with a law he opposed in the first place, the president’s announcement today is heavy on PR and completely empty on substance or news.  The president didn’t wake up and decide to freeze Iranian bank assets because of any newfound sense of urgency on Iran; it’s required in section one of the Menendez-Kirk amendment.”

“Everyone needs to pay extremely close attention to the rule that’s about to be published which will contain all the details on how the Obama Administration intends to implement sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran,” added the aide.

Credit where it’s due: Obama signed the executive order for a round of sanctions that finally have teeth, and may be last hope for averting military action by the U.S. or Israel. His actions today will get them rolling.

But the honorable thing to do would be to recognize the real architects behind the sanctions, Menendez and Kirk.