Commentary Magazine


Topic: Iran Central Bank

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.

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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.

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Obama Buys More Time for Diplomacy

After trying to persuade Congress not to pass sanctions on all entities doing business with Iran’s Central Bank and then warning he might not enforce them after the legislation passed, President Obama went ahead and ordered the ban to proceed via an executive order signed yesterday. The order was announced today in a letter to Congress and lends credence to previous statements from the administration that their problem with Congress’s attempt to impose the sanctions was an issue relating to separation of powers rather than reluctance to confront Iran and halt its efforts to obtain nuclear capability.

It is far from certain the order would have gone through had Congress not acted to mandate such action in the first place. But the prime motivation for acting now, well in advance of the six-month deadline Congress laid down for Obama to enforce the legislation, may have had more to do with fear of an Israeli strike on Iran than scruples about the Constitution. With Israel making it clear it will not wait indefinitely for sanctions and diplomacy to work, Obama had little choice but to implement the legislation, thereby setting in motion a chain of events that could lead to the complete economic isolation of Iran. The question facing Washington now is whether this measure can be quickly implemented, and will it be too little and too late?

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After trying to persuade Congress not to pass sanctions on all entities doing business with Iran’s Central Bank and then warning he might not enforce them after the legislation passed, President Obama went ahead and ordered the ban to proceed via an executive order signed yesterday. The order was announced today in a letter to Congress and lends credence to previous statements from the administration that their problem with Congress’s attempt to impose the sanctions was an issue relating to separation of powers rather than reluctance to confront Iran and halt its efforts to obtain nuclear capability.

It is far from certain the order would have gone through had Congress not acted to mandate such action in the first place. But the prime motivation for acting now, well in advance of the six-month deadline Congress laid down for Obama to enforce the legislation, may have had more to do with fear of an Israeli strike on Iran than scruples about the Constitution. With Israel making it clear it will not wait indefinitely for sanctions and diplomacy to work, Obama had little choice but to implement the legislation, thereby setting in motion a chain of events that could lead to the complete economic isolation of Iran. The question facing Washington now is whether this measure can be quickly implemented, and will it be too little and too late?

In his pre-Super Bowl interview on NBC yesterday, the president acknowledged the gravity of Israel’s security concerns about a nuclear Iran, which he said Americans shared. He declared, “We are going to make sure we work in lock step and work to resolve this, hopefully diplomatically.” But the presidents’s chief concern seemed to be to persuade Israel to give him more time to achieve such a diplomatic resolution before deciding to act on their own.

His problem, however, is that even with the sanctions on the bank in place–a measure that is a prerequisite for an international embargo on Iranian oil sales–it is not clear whether it will be rigorously enforced or respected by Tehran’s chief trading partners. With Russia and China defying Obama on Syria, Israel can have little confidence the president can count on their acquiescence on a far bigger target in Iran. Moreover, just as worrisome is the Treasury Department’s history of providing exemptions to thousands of companies that already do business with companies that trade with Iran.

The bank ban may gain Obama a bit more time, and he is probably right when he says, as he did yesterday, that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak have not yet made up their minds about launching a strike. But the Israelis are not likely to give the bank ban or even the oil embargo all that much time. Just as worrisome is the possibility Iran will switch tactics and attempt to engage Obama in another negotiation that might lead to an agreement that might not be enforceable, much in the same way the North Koreans scammed Obama’s predecessors as they ran out the clock on talks while proceeding to finish their bomb.

While a negotiated settlement that would avert the need to use force is in Israel’s interest as well as that of the United States, Jerusalem has little reason to trust in Obama’s good faith or his willingness to persist in a tough position vis-à-vis Iran. In signing the order, Obama has done the right thing, and for that he deserves credit. But the Israelis and others who understand the profound nature of this threat will be monitoring enforcement of the provision closely and looking to see whether Washington buckles at the first hint of a new round of futile talks with the ayatollahs’ representatives.

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Can Obama Get Away With Iran Inaction?

President Obama has been assuring the public since before he was elected in 2008 that he would never allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. But the question facing the White House this year is whether a failure to make good on that pledge will be more damaging to his chances of re-election than a spike in oil prices.

That’s the dilemma Obama has been grappling with since Congress passed a bill over his objections last month that mandated a complete ban on all transactions with entities that did business with Iran’s Central Bank. Sanctions on the bank are the lever by which an international embargo on the sale of Iranian oil is made possible. But as American diplomats are laying the groundwork for such an embargo, the administration is also sending out signals that indicate it is less than enthusiastic about dealing with the possible economic fallout of the one tactic that might stop the Iranians short of war.

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President Obama has been assuring the public since before he was elected in 2008 that he would never allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. But the question facing the White House this year is whether a failure to make good on that pledge will be more damaging to his chances of re-election than a spike in oil prices.

That’s the dilemma Obama has been grappling with since Congress passed a bill over his objections last month that mandated a complete ban on all transactions with entities that did business with Iran’s Central Bank. Sanctions on the bank are the lever by which an international embargo on the sale of Iranian oil is made possible. But as American diplomats are laying the groundwork for such an embargo, the administration is also sending out signals that indicate it is less than enthusiastic about dealing with the possible economic fallout of the one tactic that might stop the Iranians short of war.

According to the New York Times, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has already told Congress he thought the bank measure interfered with the administration’s  “carefully phased” approach to sanctions on Iran. Having demanded and gotten a waiver inserted into the bill that would allow the president to put off the sanctions indefinitely, there is now a very real chance Obama will decide the sanctions are not worth the trouble. With the president’s favorability numbers already low, the White House may believe the impact of a major increase in the price of gas and the consequent economic distress may be more politically toxic than actions that can be interpreted as acquiescing to a nuclear Iran.

But with diplomacy offering no hope and since the administration has made it clear it will not support the use of force against Iran and opposes Israel doing so on its own, punting on an oil embargo will be seen as an indication Obama is not prepared to do anything to stop Tehran.

Doing so will open the president up to fierce criticism from Republicans. Just as troubling is that it will undermine his standing with a key component of his electoral coalition: American Jews. Obama may be able to hold onto the loyalty of a group that is for the most part comprised of Democratic partisans, even though he has often quarreled with Israel’s government. But for Obama to refuse to use the one economic lever he has at his disposal to avert an existential threat to Israel as well as to the entire Middle East would certainly cost him heavily among Jews as well as non-Jewish friends of Israel.

Essentially, Obama has until late June to decide whether or not to use the waiver Congress gave him. While we must expect the administration would attempt to explain its use as part of a long-range strategy against Iran, the consequences of doing so could be greater than just some lost votes. If the United States chooses not to push tough sanctions against Iran, then Israel may decide it must take matters into its own hands. Since the president has acted at times as if he was more afraid of Israel attacking Iranian nuclear sites than he was of the ayatollah gaining control of a bomb, that too may figure into his decision. Even worse for the president is the possibility that further delay will result in an Iranian announcement of nuclear capability on Obama’s watch.

But if Obama is left with no good choices about Iran he has only himself to blame. Having wasted his first three years in office on a foolish policy of “engagement” with and feckless diplomatic initiatives that accomplished nothing, the fact that he has painted himself into a corner on this issue during an election year is entirely his own doing.

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Sanctions on Iran Starting to Bite?

News from Iran is that the new sanctions on its oil industry and Central Bank enacted by Congress over President Obama’s protests are already starting to bite—even before the European Union finalizes its own embargo of Iranian oil. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Iran’s rial currency has declined 40 percent to 55 percent against the dollar on the black market since December. Iranian inflation, meanwhile, now exceeds 20 percent a month, according to the Central Bank. While the rial has been falling for almost a year, the latest drop appeared to be triggered by a recent U.S. announcement that it would penalize companies that do business with Iran’s Central Bank, and a proposed plan to ban Iranian oil purchases in the European Union later this year.

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News from Iran is that the new sanctions on its oil industry and Central Bank enacted by Congress over President Obama’s protests are already starting to bite—even before the European Union finalizes its own embargo of Iranian oil. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Iran’s rial currency has declined 40 percent to 55 percent against the dollar on the black market since December. Iranian inflation, meanwhile, now exceeds 20 percent a month, according to the Central Bank. While the rial has been falling for almost a year, the latest drop appeared to be triggered by a recent U.S. announcement that it would penalize companies that do business with Iran’s Central Bank, and a proposed plan to ban Iranian oil purchases in the European Union later this year.

That’s certainly good news on some level although no one can be happy about the economic suffering being inflicted on the Iranian people who have no say in their leaders’ attempts to acquire nuclear programs. But will these sanctions be enough to deter the mullahs from going nuclear? Perhaps so, if the sanctions galvanize social unrest that threatens the ayatollahs’ hold on power. But I am not especially hopeful that will be the case.

As the Journal notes, the examples of Cuba, North Korea and Iraq under Saddam Hussein are not encouraging: all three countries faced years of crippling sanctions (decades in the case of the first two) yet their leaders’ hold on power was not seriously challenged. Instead, as the Journal writes, the result was “a populace that is poor and dependent on state welfare.”

This is the flip side of the argument that opponents of bombing Iran’s nuclear installations often make: Such strikes, they claim, will only lead the people to draw closer to their rulers. But that could also be the effect of sanctions. The difference is that, whatever their impact on Iranian popular opinion (impossible to predict), strikes would at least deliver short-term benefits by setting back Iranian nuclear efforts. Sanctions could simply be ineffectual.

 

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In Obama They Trust? Israelis Ponder U.S. Intentions Toward Iran

Anyone listening to what’s being said about Iran by the White House and State Department lately could easily be convinced stopping the ayatollah’s nuclear program is one of Washington’s top priorities. But the public “disappointment” being expressed in Israel by senior members of the Netanyahu government tells a different story. While the New York Times was reporting a few days ago that American diplomats were going all out to persuade Japan, South Korea and even China to comply with American sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank as part of a prelude to a U.S.-led oil embargo of the Islamist state, the Israelis seem to be reading from a different playbook.

Though Prime Minister Netanyahu himself has registered support for Obama’s sanctions drive, his chief political deputy today contradicted him and denounced the administration’s cautious approach to pressuring Iran. And though the White House issued a statement summarizing a phone conversation between Obama and Netanyahu on Thursday that emphasized U.S.-support for Israeli security, reports out of Israel about the talk lead one to believe the focus of the chat was something else entirely: an American demand that Israel promise not to attack Iran on its own.

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Anyone listening to what’s being said about Iran by the White House and State Department lately could easily be convinced stopping the ayatollah’s nuclear program is one of Washington’s top priorities. But the public “disappointment” being expressed in Israel by senior members of the Netanyahu government tells a different story. While the New York Times was reporting a few days ago that American diplomats were going all out to persuade Japan, South Korea and even China to comply with American sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank as part of a prelude to a U.S.-led oil embargo of the Islamist state, the Israelis seem to be reading from a different playbook.

Though Prime Minister Netanyahu himself has registered support for Obama’s sanctions drive, his chief political deputy today contradicted him and denounced the administration’s cautious approach to pressuring Iran. And though the White House issued a statement summarizing a phone conversation between Obama and Netanyahu on Thursday that emphasized U.S.-support for Israeli security, reports out of Israel about the talk lead one to believe the focus of the chat was something else entirely: an American demand that Israel promise not to attack Iran on its own.

According to the Times, the U.S. is promising Asian nations which rely on Iranian oil that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations that share Israel’s fears about Tehran obtaining nuclear weapons will make up for any shortages they experience if the embargo goes forward. But the same piece pointed out that America’s Arab allies could only provide the additional oil for a limited time. That caveat about the potential pitfalls of an embargo has led China to declare its absolute opposition to any further sanctions on Iran.

Netanyahu sought to encourage the drive for tougher sanctions when he said this week that “for the first time, I see Iran wobble” in the face of the restrictions placed on its commerce. Yet Deputy Moshe Ya’alon gave a far less sanguine evaluation of the American effort when he said Saturday the government was worried about the president’s willingness to take the crucial next step in the process: an oil embargo. He openly speculated that Obama’s fears about the political impact of a rise in gas prices was the reason why the administration was opposed to the congressional vote on sanctioning Iran’s Central Bank as well as to the implementation of the measure.

That’s where the different spins about this week’s Obama-Netanyahu call phone come into play. The White House statement read like a Democratic Party campaign appeal to American Jews when it said:

The President reiterated his unshakable commitment to Israel’s security, and the President and the Prime Minister promised to stay in touch in the coming weeks on these and other issues of mutual concern.

As JTA’s Ron Kampeas says in an attempt at translation, what Obama was really saying to Netanyahu was:

I, Barack Obama, am serious about squeezing Iran hard, which is what you have been seeking.

I, Barack Obama, have your back.

But Israeli sources are now saying the purpose of the phone call was to warn Netanyahu not to attack Iran. This would not be the first time Israel has received such a message. Netanyahu has heard this before, but the decision to re-emphasize American opposition to a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities at the same time many in Washington were expressing unhappiness about the way Iranian nuclear scientists have been turning up dead is causing some in Jerusalem to think the U.S. is more worried about an Israeli pre-emptive attack on the existential threat they face than the prospect of an Iranian nuke.

If the American desire to head off an Israeli attack was based on the idea the use of force now would unravel a growing international coalition behind an Iran oil embargo, then such warnings might be justified. But if the U.S. is merely talking about an embargo in order to convince voters Obama is serious about Iran but will never be followed up by action, then Israel’s misgivings are more than justified.

The question here is one of trust. If one believes Obama means business about Iran, then his seeming caution about enforcing the bank ban and desire for Israel to take no military action while an embargo is being planned is entirely sensible. But if, as seems to be the case with many Israelis, you have no faith the president will ever take any concrete action with regard to Iran, than all the diplomatic activity and warnings to Israel are merely attempts to keep things calm during an election year. Unfortunately, after three years of “engagement” with Iran and feckless diplomatic outreach, it’s hard to argue that the skeptics are wrong.

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Obama Statement Means No Iran Embargo

When Congress passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act last month that mandated a ban on all transactions with Iran’s Central Bank, it gave the administration the tool it needed to allow President Obama to make good on his promise to prevent Tehran from ever obtaining nuclear weapons. Restrictions on dealing with the bank would make it possible to put into place an oil embargo on Iran, the one type of sanction that could bring the Islamist regime to its knees. But the inclusion of waivers in the bill at the White House’s request also made it possible that nothing would be done. Though the president signed the Act into law during the holiday weekend, the release of his signing statement confirms our doubts about his intentions.

As the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, the statement explicitly noted the sanctions were passed over his objections and might interfere “with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations.” Obama’s statement bluntly warned Congress that if he was so inclined, “I will treat the provisions as nonbinding.” While administration officials said in spite of this, Obama still intended to pursue sanctions on the bank, the statement is a clear signal he has no such intentions.

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When Congress passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act last month that mandated a ban on all transactions with Iran’s Central Bank, it gave the administration the tool it needed to allow President Obama to make good on his promise to prevent Tehran from ever obtaining nuclear weapons. Restrictions on dealing with the bank would make it possible to put into place an oil embargo on Iran, the one type of sanction that could bring the Islamist regime to its knees. But the inclusion of waivers in the bill at the White House’s request also made it possible that nothing would be done. Though the president signed the Act into law during the holiday weekend, the release of his signing statement confirms our doubts about his intentions.

As the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, the statement explicitly noted the sanctions were passed over his objections and might interfere “with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations.” Obama’s statement bluntly warned Congress that if he was so inclined, “I will treat the provisions as nonbinding.” While administration officials said in spite of this, Obama still intended to pursue sanctions on the bank, the statement is a clear signal he has no such intentions.

The stated motive for Obama’s reluctance to try to stop the flow of oil income to the ayatollahs’ coffers is that it would disrupt the global economy and raise oil prices. That is a real danger and one that ought to worry everyone, not just a weak incumbent desperate not to worsen the nation’s financial situation. But given that such an embargo is the only measure short of war that would halt Iran’s nuclear program, there is no other choice. If Obama continues to waste more time by engaging in feckless diplomacy to assemble an anti-Iran coalition that has no chance of coming into existence, an Iranian bomb will be the inevitable result. If Obama thinks an oil embargo would be disruptive, what does he think the impact of an Iranian bomb on the global economy or gas prices would be?

One of the co-authors of the bill, Sen. Mark Kirk, warned if the president fails to enforce these sanctions (as, in fact, the administration has not done with even the weaker existing sanctions already in place), then he would face serious political consequences. But it may be that, despite the 100-0 vote in favor of the amendment, Obama believes some in Congress were hoping he would do just that. The inclusion of the presidential waiver was an open invitation to inaction on the president’s part. He may think many members of both the House and the Senate are like him: big talkers about Iran but reluctant to do anything about this terrible threat that would require action or sacrifice.

Earlier today, Michael Rubin noted Turkey had already requested the administration grant its biggest refinery a waiver on dealing with the Iranian bank so as to continue the lucrative trade between the two nations and said Obama’s willingness to grant the quest would answer the question about whether he was serious about stopping Iran. Unfortunately, the answer may have already been given with the president’s effort to stop the bill’s passage and a signing statement that all but promised it would never be enforced.

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Moment of Truth for Biting Iran Sanctions

The Obama administration has repeatedly said it takes the threat of Iran’s nuclear break-out seriously and yet, in order to have truly biting sanctions, the Congress had to go over both Obama’s head and that of the State Department.

Showing how serious sanctions can work, Iran’s currency has declined precipitously since Congress imposed the measures against Iran’s Central Bank. Now, Turkey—whose terrorist-embracing leader both President Obama and Defense Secretary Panetta praise in the most effusive of terms—is requesting a waiver of U.S. sanctions so that its biggest refinery can deal with Iran’s Central Bank. The moment of truth is here. Is Obama serious about sanctions? Or would he prefer to kill two birds with one stone to help two adversaries at the expense of U.S. national security?

The Obama administration has repeatedly said it takes the threat of Iran’s nuclear break-out seriously and yet, in order to have truly biting sanctions, the Congress had to go over both Obama’s head and that of the State Department.

Showing how serious sanctions can work, Iran’s currency has declined precipitously since Congress imposed the measures against Iran’s Central Bank. Now, Turkey—whose terrorist-embracing leader both President Obama and Defense Secretary Panetta praise in the most effusive of terms—is requesting a waiver of U.S. sanctions so that its biggest refinery can deal with Iran’s Central Bank. The moment of truth is here. Is Obama serious about sanctions? Or would he prefer to kill two birds with one stone to help two adversaries at the expense of U.S. national security?

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Will Obama Back an Iran Oil Embargo?

The Wall Street Journal reports today the Obama administration is engaging in talks with America’s European allies and various Arab states about what would happen in the event of an embargo on the export of Iranian oil. Such a measure was made possible late last week when Congress passed the Defense Authorization Act. The bill included a measure that would ban any dealings with financial entities that dealt with Iran’s Central Bank; the institution by which Tehran is able to conduct its oil trades. The U.S.-led discussions seemingly are a precursor to a move to ramp up sanctions on the Iranians so as to force them to abandon their quest for nuclear weapons.

If the United States were to actually enforce a ban on the Iranian Central Bank, then cooperation between the Arab states, Europe and the U.S. would be necessary to limit the impact of a rise in oil prices that might inevitably result from this course of action. But the real question we should be asking today is not so much “when” the ban would be enacted but “if.” Since President Obama had opposed passage of the bank transaction ban and insisted upon and got the inclusion of waivers in the legislation that would ignore the law, it is far from clear that Iran is actually in any trouble. For three years, the ayatollahs have been acting as if they believed Obama wasn’t serious about stopping him. We may soon see whether or not they are right.

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The Wall Street Journal reports today the Obama administration is engaging in talks with America’s European allies and various Arab states about what would happen in the event of an embargo on the export of Iranian oil. Such a measure was made possible late last week when Congress passed the Defense Authorization Act. The bill included a measure that would ban any dealings with financial entities that dealt with Iran’s Central Bank; the institution by which Tehran is able to conduct its oil trades. The U.S.-led discussions seemingly are a precursor to a move to ramp up sanctions on the Iranians so as to force them to abandon their quest for nuclear weapons.

If the United States were to actually enforce a ban on the Iranian Central Bank, then cooperation between the Arab states, Europe and the U.S. would be necessary to limit the impact of a rise in oil prices that might inevitably result from this course of action. But the real question we should be asking today is not so much “when” the ban would be enacted but “if.” Since President Obama had opposed passage of the bank transaction ban and insisted upon and got the inclusion of waivers in the legislation that would ignore the law, it is far from clear that Iran is actually in any trouble. For three years, the ayatollahs have been acting as if they believed Obama wasn’t serious about stopping him. We may soon see whether or not they are right.

Among the optimists is Walter Russell Meade, who writes today in his blog at The American Interest that plans for an embargo are an expression of a growing international consensus that Iran must be stopped. He rightly scoffs at the idea that the focus on Iran is a function of American and Israeli animus for Islam and points out that the Arabs are just as scared of the ayatollahs as the Jews.

But the problem here is that after three years of feckless diplomacy, it is very difficult to escape the conclusion that Tehran’s low opinion of President Obama’s resolve is accurate.

While the president continues to vow, as he did on Friday when he addressed the Union of Reform Judaism’s biennial convention that he won’t let Iran go nuclear, most of the signals coming out of Washington seem to indicate a lack of seriousness about the U.S. push on the issue. The negotiations over the sanctions bill just passed by Congress illustrated this conundrum. Though Obama brags about how tough he is about Iran, the administration made it very clear it was not happy about Congress actually giving it the one tool it needs — a ban on dealings with Iran’s Central Bank – that could make an oil embargo a reality. If the president is ready to enforce this ban, then Iran’s oil exports can be effectively crippled. But if that’s what he wants to do, it is hard to imagine why Obama would insist on the bill including waivers that could allow him to put such a measure off indefinitely.

It also bears repeating that the United States is not enforcing the weak sanctions already on the books. Talking about sanctions is the one thing this administration seems able to do. It requires a considerable leap of faith to think that the president is ready to carry them out.

The only reason to believe the administration is prepared to act was supplied by one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Sen. Mark Kirk, who accurately characterized the waivers as “a get out of jail free card.” He still thinks Obama won’t use them because “as you enter a presidential contest, there’s no upside to being soft on Iran.”

But Obama, who entered office determined to “engage” with Iran and refused to publicly support pro-democracy protesters who took to the streets of Tehran in their thousands, has consistently been soft on the Islamist regime. Though a failure to press Iran would give his Republican opponents an issue on which they could easily attack him, it may be that Obama is far more afraid of an election-year spike in oil prices than being called an appeaser. Given that the president’s re-election campaign has been appealing to the left more than the center or right, it could be that Obama’s political calculations could work to the ayatollahs’ favor rather than against them.

Though Obama may yet vindicate his defenders, there is still good reason to be skeptical about the administration’s willingness to do what needs to be done to avert the catastrophe of a nuclear Iran.

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