The Obama Administration, eagerly seeking a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, is now signaling that it will ease the sanctions that finally forced Tehran to the negotiating table.
On Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the Obama Administration is considering the easing of some sanctions to further advance negotiations with Tehran.
In fact, the White House has already chosen to lighten Iran’s sanctions burden by slowing the implementation of existing sanctions and delaying congressional legislation that would impose new sanctions. Eli Lake and Josh Rogin reported in today’s Daily Beast that the Administration began softening sanctions after the June election of Hassan Rouhani by slowing the pace of designating Iranian front companies, individuals, ships, and aircraft as sanctions violators.
The Administration has also lobbied Congress to postpone any new sanctions to avoid disrupting the current round of negotiations with Iran. But this is a gross misreading of the situation. The prospect of new sanctions would enhance American bargaining leverage with Iran and increase the chances that an acceptable agreement can be negotiated with the recalcitrant regime in Tehran.
Easing the economic pressure on Iran during the negotiations would also be unwise because it gives Tehran an incentive to string out the talks or reach an interim deal that preserves its nuclear options while impeding further U.S. and Western sanctions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had this in mind when he denounced the emerging details of a possible interim agreement with Iran today as a “very bad deal” that Israel “utterly rejects.”
Saudi Arabia has also expressed alarm over the Obama Administration’s soft policy toward Iran. It is reportedly hedging its bets by making arrangements to acquire a nuclear weapon from Pakistan, whose nuclear program is heavily financed.
The mounting signs that the Obama Administration will settle for a bad nuclear deal with Iran not only increases the likelihood that Saudi Arabia and other countries will react with a cascade of nuclear proliferation; it also increases the chances of a war between Israel and Iran.