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Monday, December 14, 2009

Obama recognizes Iran's clenched fist?

Newsweek reports that President Obama is finally giving up on 'engagement' with Iran.
Until now, Obama has kept Levey in his back pocket. But the president has concluded that his offer of an "outstretched hand" to Iran will not, on its own, produce the results he needs. Even as he received the Nobel Peace Prize last week, Obama was fast approaching his informal year-end deadline for seeing "progress" in talks to shut down Iran's nuclear program. Tehran has by all accounts refused to cooperate. After a moment of promise in early October, when Iran pledged to ship much of its uranium abroad, Tehran has reneged on almost every tentative deal. Worse, since Iran admitted to building a secret uranium-enrichment facility near the religious city of Qum, it has brazenly pledged to build 10 more. "There is nothing happening," says one senior European diplomat who would not discuss the talks on the record. "Zero. Zero. Zero."

As a result, barring a last-minute concession by Iran, the president is now firmly committed to imposing tougher sanctions, says a senior administration official who would discuss internal deliberations only on condition of anonymity. "It's important for Obama that the United States do exactly what it says it's going to do," the official told NEWSWEEK. "We said at the end of the year we would turn to sanctions" if diplomacy didn't produce results. That time has come, the official says. "Nobody is going to say to the United States, 'You're just like the Bush administration.' We tried the engagement route."


While the Revolutionary Guards pretend to be the incorruptible shield of the Islamic Revolution, individual commanders are believed to be wealthy private investors, especially in neighboring countries like Dubai. "What will cause the Guards their demise is their corruption," an Iranian intelligence official told NEWSWEEK on condition that his name not be used. "For the past 20 years, they've been allowed by the Supreme Leader and consecutive governments to make money in a shadowy world." The West's new approach, Levey indicated, is to focus on the IRGC as "the face of repression," thereby supporting democracy activists in Iran without arousing Iranian national pride over their nuclear program.

The plan is for Levey's office to publicly identify "dozens" of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps front companies and then pressure suppliers and trading partners to cut off ties—or risk being sanctioned by the U.S. government, says the senior administration official. "There will be a big effort by Stuart to work with like-minded countries to target IRGC front companies," the official says. "We know which ones [the IRGC] are affiliated with and we know which ones they control." Levey says he wants to make the foreign firms understand that "if they're dealing with Iran it's nearly impossible to protect themselves from being entangled in that country's illicit conduct."


Levey himself acknowledges that there is a debate inside the administration about how pressure tactics will affect Iran; even reformist candidates like defeated presidential contender Mir Hossain Mousavi came out recently against the proposed deal for Iran to ship uranium outside the country for processing. Another key question is whether Russia, China, and other major Iranian trading partners can be persuaded to help squeeze Iran. Moscow has shown more willingness to get tough, while China remains reluctant to disturb its energy trade. Still, Obama's yearlong campaign of engagement with Iran may pay dividends by creating a deeper consensus against Iran than has ever existed.
Read the whole thing.

Let's hope this time it's for real.


At 7:51 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Its immaterial whether the Russians and Chinese get aboard. The real issue is American resolve - other countries will fall in line when America leads. If Obama waits for every one to agree there will never be sanctions. That's the bottom line.

At 4:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the article "Nobody is going to say to the United States, 'You're just like the Bush administration.' We tried the engagement route." What a pathetic lying fool this guy is. I can't believe they let him get away with saying that.


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