The Obama administration on Friday lifted sanctions against four Russian entities involved in illicit weapons trade with Iran and Syria since 1999, and acknowledged exempting a Russian-Iranian missile deal from a U.N. draft resolution banning most missile sales to Iran. The move comes just three days after the U.S., Russia and other key powers reached agreement on a draft resolution sanctioning Iran for violating U.N. demands to halt its uranium enrichment program. The draft includes a loophole that would exempt a 2005 Russian deal, valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, to sell Tehran five S-300 surface-to-air missile systems. … The removal of the four entities, which was recorded in Friday’s Federal Register, suggested that the United States engaged in some last-minute bargaining to ensure Moscow’s support for sanctions.
This is, even for the Obama team, a disgrace. This is Obama’s face-saving act, not a serious effort to thwart the Iranians’ nuclear program. Indeed, this is arguably worse than merely a watered-down sanctions agreement. Why worse? Obama has now made hash out of our policy with two countries. This message of appeasement signals to Russian leaders that they can extract virtually anything from Obama, as long as his personal vanity and the preservation of the patina of competence are at stake.
We’ll see how lawmakers react to this development. As for the Democrats, they will be hard-pressed to defend the president and his hapless secretary of state on this one.