December 31, 2015 | Quote

The Obama Administration is Playing a ‘Game of Whack-a-Mole’ With Iran

The Obama administration is planning a new round of sanctions against individuals and companies in Iran over the country's ballistic-missile program, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Iran violated a UN Security Council Resolution in early October after it tested a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

But critics said the move showed that Washington was merely playing “a game of whack-a-mole” when it came to cutting off Tehran's most significant sources of funding.

“If admin doesn't target Iran & foreign banks involved in ballistic-missile $$, these actions [are a] game of whack-a-mole,” Mark Dubowitz, director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies' Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, tweeted on Wednesday. “Iran will simply set up different fronts & rely on other unsanctioned individuals to continue illicit activities.”

SWIFT access “was the brass ring for the Iranians,” Jonathan Schanzer, a former counterterrorism analyst for the US Treasury Department who is now vice president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider the day the deal was announced in July.

“They're in financial pain that they can't rectify if they're cut off from the formal financial sector.”

Fifteen Iranian banks were barred from using SWIFT in 2012. But Iran is now poised “to regain access to SWIFT, giving IRGC the ability to finance a much expanded illicit missile program,” Dubowitz said on Twitter, referring to Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The newest round of sanctions planned by the White House therefore “amount to window dressing,” Schanzer told Business Insider on Wednesday. “They barely address on the margins the weaknesses of the JCPOA.”

“There is a clear need to push back on Iran when it launches ballistic missiles in defiance of the international community,” Schanzer said. “But the administration has larger equities at play, namely the JCPOA. This allows the administration to look like it's taking action while stopping short of prompting a crisis in JCPOA implementation.”

“Should the administration choose to get serious about Iranian violations,” Schanzer added, “there are far more serious steps to be taken.”

Read the full article here. 


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