Commentary Magazine


Obama’s Partners Profit on Iran Sanctions Waivers

On Friday, President Obama issued a second round of waivers, in theory to give countries more time to disentangle themselves from their financial dealings in Iran. Reuters reported:

The United States granted 180-day waivers on Iran sanctions to China, India and a number of other countries on Friday in exchange for their cutting purchases of oil from the Islamic Republic. President Barack Obama’s administration has now renewed waivers for all 20 of Iran’s major oil buyers, after granting them to Japan and 10 European Union countries in September. Friday’s action was the second renewal for all 20 after Obama signed the sanctions into law a year ago.

Among the countries issued waivers were South Korea, Turkey, China, India, and South Africa. Iranian officials gloated. According to Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency:

“Every once in a while, US is forced to withdraw from its policy of sanctions and pressure against Iran because of the hardships that its people, friendly countries and allies are facing due to Iran sanctions, and this time the US has had to think again about Iran bans in order to reduce these pressures and meet its need to energy and oil products,” [Ahmad] Bakhshayesh, [a member of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and National Security Committee] said.

Herein lies the problem. Many of these countries—Turkey, for example—make no secret of their refusal to abide by the sanctions (perhaps the Congressional Turkey Caucus might ask Namik Tan, Turkey’s ambassador to the United States to explain). As another Fars News Agency story relates, “At least seven companies from China, India, South Korea and South Africa continued to have investments in Iran’s oil and gas sectors in 2012 despite Western sanctions.” In other words, Obama is waiving sanctions not only on countries which import fuel from Iran, but also those whose investments enable Iran to develop such oil and gas resources in the first place.

President Obama should not confuse adulation with respect. When it comes to the overseas view of the American president, it is hard not to believe “push-over” and “gullible” are the descriptions most commonly used.