As further sanctions on Iran – due to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear aspirations – are debated and considered, the world must remember what’s at stake: the terrifying reality of a nuclear Iran. Writing at The Times of Israel, attorney and former delegate to the U.N. Jeff Robbins stresses how important it is that the U.S. stand firm against Iran:
This calls to mind President Obama’s most recent threat to veto a U.S. Senate bill with bipartisan support aimed at incentivizing Iran to end diplomatically the international threat posed by its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The bill, introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), provides for further sanctions if, after yet another six months of negotiations, Iran still refuses to reverse its nuclear program, as it has steadfastly refused to do over the course of the last year. It enables the president to waive these sanctions, as long as he certifies that continuing the talks “is likely to result in achieving a long-term comprehensive solution with Iran.”
Over the past year, the Obama administration has eased sanctions on Iran and repeatedly threatened to veto legislation that would reinstitute the sanctions if Iran continues to refuse a nuclear deal, at times accusing the bill’s supporters of wanting a war. While giving the president a full year of the “space” he said he needed to negotiate has produced no agreement, the easing of sanctions has handed Iran significant improvements in its economy, thereby reducing any pressure Iran may have felt to make a deal.
It was Obama who derided the idea of sanctions on Iran as “Bush-Lite” during the 2008 presidential campaign, and who sought to block Congress from enacting sanctions after he was elected. He now acknowledges that it was the very sanctions he opposed that are responsible for persuading Iran to negotiate — but he makes the head-scratching argument that if Iran knows the sanctions will be strengthened if it continues to dither, it will break off negotiations …
With the specter of a nuclear Iran terrifyingly real, Markey and his colleagues ought to remember what they themselves have said in the past. If they oppose Menendez-Kirk they will send the message to Iran that it may do as it pleases, without consequences.