Friday, December 20, 2013

Does The US Have The Guts To Call Iran's "Poorly Played Bluff"?

Iran successfully avoided the terms of the last agreement with the West designed to limit its nuclear program -- and has boasted openly this time around that it has retained the right to enrich its Uranium and continue its program virtually unimpeded.

But this times things are different.

It's just that the Obama administration appears reluctant to take advantage of that fact.

In The Israel Project's Daily Tip on Iran, we read that the Obama administration is avoiding the conclusion that Iran's desperation drove that country to return to the bargaining table:
A potential showdown between the White House and Congress over sanctions on Iran is refocusing attention on tensions within the Obama administration's opposition to imposing new financial pressure on the Islamic republic. Journalists and analysts had very early begun to question the White House's stance that while past sanctions had coerced the Iranians into coming to the negotiating table by endangering the country's economy, new sanctions would push them away. Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee had pressed State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki on the point in late October, asking at a daily press conference "wouldn't it be logical that once you've got them to the table, adding more pressure would help and would make them more willing to compromise." December analysis published by Mark Dubowitz, executive director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD),  evaluated that Iran badly needs the financial relief offered by the Joint Plan of Action (JPA) signed in Geneva, the upshot being that Iranian threats to walk away from the table were bluffs. The Treasury Department subsequently did issue new designations against entities suspected of violating sanctions against Iran. In response the Iranians  left but then returned to talks. Politico tonight published analysis by Jonathan Schanzer [The White House Can’t Have It Both Ways on Iran], FDD vice president for research, assessing that the temporary Iranian departure was a "poorly played bluff," that Tehran is "desperate for the sanctions relief the JPA is slated to provide," and that the White House may therefore have trouble convincing lawmakers that Congressional moves to pass delayed sanctions are sufficient to derail negotiations.
These days, Rouhani is not all smiles

As Schanzer notes:
On the one hand, the administration wishes to convey to the Iranians that it is creating favorable conditions for a mutually beneficial deal. On the other, it seeks to convey to members of Congress and their constituents (polls show that Americans roundly distrust Iran’s intentions) that the administration will remain tough and enforce the existing sanctions.
Obama seems far more interested -- and more successful -- at pushing his weight around Washington than abroad. Nevertheless, US interests require that he take a consistent stand and follow through on it.

He need not make himself into a self-imposed lame duck in the eyes of the world.

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