Obama's Line in Tel Aviv Sands

By EWI BLOG | by Rachel Ehrenfeld
Wednesday, March 20th, 2013 @ 5:37AM

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Days before his visit to Israel, on March 14th in a direct address to the Israeli public, President Obama stated for the first time that Iran has “over a year or so” to develop a nuclear weapon.

Interviewed by Israel’s channel 2 TV, six days before he was to begin his much hyped visit to Israel, Obama declared: “Our goal is that Iran does not possess a nuclear weapon that could threaten Israel or trigger an arms race in the region that would be extremely dangerous.” He then offered yet another of his empty threats: “If not I continue to keep all options on the table.”

Obama’s declared “goal” could have been considered more genuine had his words been backed up with action. Moreover, in his message to the Iranian people, in a video released on the Iranian-Persian New Year (Nowruz) on Monday, Obama offered the Mullahs “a new relationship,” if only Tehran fully discloses details about its nuclear program. He has delivered a similar message each year since he arrived in the White House.

Iran’s consistent response has been that its her “sovereign right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.” Moreover, Iran claims that the enriched uranium will be used for new nuclear power plants “so it can export more oil.”

A day earlier, on March 13, the U.S. announced the exemptionof 11 countries — all closely allied with the U.S. — from Iran’s oil sanction program not because the have stopped buying Iranian crude, but because they have reduced their oil imports from Iran.

Earlier this month, Pakistan, another U.S “ally,” has been threatened for beginning the construction of a $7.5-billion-U.S.-dollar gas pipeline from Iran, which has been announced in early February.

Only now the State Department reacted: “If this project actually goes forward, we have serious concerns that sanctions will be triggered,” announced State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

Threats aside, Pakistan serves as the main U.S. route to withdraw its and NATO forces from Afghanistan and will do nothing to jeopardize it. Islamabad, of course, takes every advantage of the situation.

All the while, the U.S. government has been buying Iranian oil for Afghanistan’s security forces as detailed by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Titled, “Afghan National Security: Limited Visibility Over Fuel Imports Increase the Risk that U.S. Funded Fuel Purchases Could Violate U.S. Economic Sanctions Against Iran,” was released in January 2013. Turns out that between 2007-2012,vendors were not required “to provide information on the sources of fuel or certify that their fuel purchases complied with U.S. sanctions prohibiting transactions with Iran.”

However, neither Kabul nor Tehran made secret the December 2011 agreement in which Afghanistan agreed to buy “one million tons per year of gasoil, gasoline and jet fuel” from Iran. And in early February, Afghanistan declared that despite American pressure it would continue to purchase Iranian oil.

It seems that with Obama, U.S. bark has lost the fear it used to generate because it’s clear that Obama’s “open options” vis-a-vis Iran are not just another line in the sand, but an offer to accommodate Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Strengthening this impression is the statement issued inBrussels today detailing the easing of the sanctions on Iran by the six powers. This softening comes on top of already watered-down demands on Iran, which were made Kazakhstan last month.

Now, the six powers, including the U.S., offer to ease “a ban on trade in gold and other precious metals, and a relaxation of an import embargo on Iranian petrochemical products.”

In exchange, a senior U.S. official said, Iran would among other things have to suspend uranium enrichment to a fissile concentration of 20 percent at its Fordow underground facility and “constrain the ability to quickly resume operations there.”

The Mullah’s must be pleased with this latest development. Israel less so.

Further Readings:

Thomas Jocelyn: Partners in Terror? Iran, al Qaeda, and the secret bin Laden files.

WSJ: U.S. Blacklists Greek Businessman Over Iran Shipments

WSJ: Closing U.S. Ports to Iran-Tainted Shipping. States can deny docking privileges to the ships of companies that do business in Iran. 

WSJ: Iran-North Korea Pact Draws Concern  

Douglas Gansler: Uniting States Against Iran. More attorneys general need to act on sanctions. After all, states control trillions in pension funds and spending.

AP: Iran Farmers Clash With Police Over Water Rights

IRANIAN NEWS AGENCY: Iranian navy to be present in Atlantic Ocean soon: Commander 

WASHINGTON POST: Iran’s Web censors vs. Google Reader  

Simon Henderson, Gabriel Scheinmann: Risking the ‘Finlandization’ of the Persian Gulf. A nuclear-armed Iran may bring Soviet-style intimidation to the Middle East.

Daniel Greenfield: Washington Post Admits Iran Sanctions Have Failed

Joby Warrick, Anne Gearan: No shift in Iran’s nuclear behaviour, despite sanctions. US and European officials and analysts say Tehran is defying western pressure with a combination of clever tactics, repression and sheer stubbornness


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