November 18, 2014 | Quote
Obama’s Fire Sale to Iran
For years we have been negotiating and Iran still will not agree to any meaningful prohibitions on enrichment. You would think by now the administration would have figured out the lay of the land. But of course by denying the obvious, that Iran isn’t giving up anything, President Obama can resist pleas for more robust action and claim his policy is still viable.
Even worse, there are signs we are lobbing concessions at Iran faster than they can scoop them up for another day and another president. Mark Dubowitz, a sanctions expert with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, tells me, “Iran continues to engage in a range of illicit and dangerous activities including, in the past few months, procuring parts for its nuclear, ballistic missile, and chemical weapons programs and recently violating the terms of the JPOA by engaging in prohibited advanced centrifuge research and development work.” He observes, ” These illicit activities — and the absence of punishment for Iranian violations — are a sign of coming attractions and a warning about an approach that relies on precipitously unwinding the sanctions regime and relying on ‘snapbacks’ to re-impose economic pressure.”
The White House would like to believe that Republicans want talks to fail. In reality both Democrats and Republicans, not to mention Israel and our Sunni allies, are afraid the administration is only inclined to give more and more ground to Iran. The faint hope that additional sanctions will alter the Iranian’s posture is also fading. Obama keeps promising to veto them and keeps conceding more at the bargaining table so why, to the extent the mullahs understand our political system, should the Iranians listen to Congress? Given the president’s lack of credibility, Dubowitz suggests, “Congress should assert and act on its prerogative to provide oversight on what would constitute a material breach of the agreement and vigorously defend the sanctions architecture it has built. The worse the deal, the more important it will be for Congress to ensure that strong economic leverage remains to punish Iranian non-compliance.”
In addition to passing additional sanctions and laying out the bare minimum terms that would be approved by Congress, lawmakers would be wise to demand disclosure (behind closed doors if need be to key members of Congress) of the progress of the bargaining to date. It is necessary to assess how much Obama has given up before our allies so that Congress can assess what the next steps may be. Surely if the administration has been holding firm on key points that should not be a problem, right? In the new Congress, serious bipartisan oversight will be necessary to prevent Iran from winning diplomatic legitimacy for its weapons programs. If Congress does not act, that is precisely where we are heading.
Read full article here.