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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hysteria: White House warns of war if Congress passes new sanctions

Let's call this the Iran equivalent of US Secretary of State John Kerry's warning that the failure of the 'peace talks' would lead to a third intifada - thereby in essence calling for a third intifada. Now, the White House is brooking war by warning Congress that the passage of new sanctions will lead to war (Hat Tip: Memorandum).
Fresh from the talks, Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to make the case for continued diplomacy.
Key senators from both parties, some responding to Israel's denunciation of the proposed agreement, are proposing stiffer sanctions or may curtail Obama's power to ease current measures, which have crippled the Iranian economy.
But the White House warned that new sanctions could scupper the diplomatic process and leave little option but the use of military force against Tehran's nuclear program.
Carney said Americans "justifiably and understandably prefer a peaceful solution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and this agreement, if it's achieved, has the potential to do that."
"The alternative is military action," Carney said.
"It is important to understand that if pursuing a resolution diplomatically is disallowed or ruled out, what options then do we and our allies have to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon?"
Republican Senator Mark Kirk, however, argued that sanctions remained the best way to avoid war and ensure Iran did not get nuclear weapons.
But with the House having passed sanctions by a huge margin over the summer, the Senate isn't buying it.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Robert Menendez said in a USA Today op-ed that new sanctions are a "necessary insurance policy" to ensure Iran negotiates in good faith.
"We cannot substitute wild-eyed hope for clear-eyed pragmatism given Iran's record of deception," he said.
And he branded it "incompatible" for Tehran to pursue talks while installing centrifuges and developing a heavy-water reactor.
"Tougher sanctions will serve as an incentive for Iran to verifiably dismantle its nuclear weapons program. When Iran complies, sanctions can be unwound and economic relief will follow," he said.
An aide to Banking Committee chairman Tim Johnson said the senator "will not make a decision on additional sanctions until he has had a chance to consult with his colleagues following the briefing" by Kerry on Wednesday.
The committee's top Republican, Senator Mike Crapo, has said he wants to "move ahead expeditiously" with a new sanctions regime.
"I don’t see how we should adjust our sanctions policy before there is any progress on the negotiation," he told Politico last week.
Colin Kahl, director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, said Congress was warming to the idea that sanctions pressure got Iran to the negotiating table and "more pressure will get them over the goal line."
But Kahl told reporters that "Congress should be mindful... of doing things that would arm hardliners with the argument that the West isn't serious" about engaging Iran diplomatically over its nuclear program.
Iran needs to know that if they continue to develop nuclear weapons, they will pay a severe economic (and military) price.  Easing up on sanctions, or not enacting sanctions that are long overdue sends the wrong message.

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