Obama trying to weaken sanctions against Iran?

posted at 11:36 am on April 29, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Barack Obama talks tougher these days about Iran, but actions speak louder than words.  That’s why the White House request to provide waivers in a sanctions bill making its way through Congress has eyebrows raised on Capitol Hill.  Eli Lake reports at the Washington Times that the exemptions would allow Chinese and Russian companies doing business with Iran off the hook:

The Obama administration is pressing Congress to provide an exemption from Iran sanctions to companies based in “cooperating countries,” a move that likely would exempt Chinese and Russian concerns from penalties meant to discourage investment in Iran.

The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act is in a House-Senate conference committee and is expected to reach President Obama’s desk by Memorial Day.

“It’s incredible the administration is asking for exemptions, under the table and winking and nodding, before the legislation is signed into law,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican and a conference committee member, said in an interview. A White House official confirmed Wednesday that the administration was pushing the conference committee to adopt the exemption of “cooperating countries” in the legislation. …

The “cooperating countries” language that the White House is pressing would allow the executive branch to designate countries as cooperating with the overall strategy to pressure Iran economically.

According to three congressional staffers familiar with the White House proposal, once a country is on that list, the administration wouldn’t even have to identify companies from that country as selling gasoline or aiding Iran’s refinement industry.

Even if, as current law allows, the administration can waive the penalties on named companies for various reasons, the “cooperating countries” language would deprive the sanctions of their “name-and-shame” power, the staffers said.

The timing is interesting, to say the least. Jane’s Defense Weekly just reported that China broke ground on a manufacturing facility in Iran that will build anti-ship missiles. With American naval assets in the Persian Gulf, this would usually be a development that would concern American presidents. After all, whose ships would be the natural targets of the Nasr-1 missiles, if not the US? Why would we want to reward that with exemptions and waivers from sanctions?

Obama needs to get China and Russia on board for any new sanctions regime to be effective. However, that only works if China and Russia actually obey the sanctions and stop doing business with Iran. This request makes the Obama effort look very much like a shell game, a way for the White House to claim victory on getting new sanctions while effectively giving China and Russia a pass from compliance.

Has the White House forgotten that the entire point of the exercise is to force Iran to stop building nuclear weapons? Or has the Obama administration decided to just concern themselves with political game-playing, fiddling furiously while Tehran glows?


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Israel (Bibi) will do the job our spineless President won’t do…

PatriotRider on April 29, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Poetic justice would be that Obama is visting wherever Iran strikes first.

Let him taste the sizzling fruits of his purulent lunacy.

Commander Craven-In-Chief.

profitsbeard on April 29, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Bibi observes and takes notes,….marks calender.

a capella on April 29, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Has the White House forgotten that the entire point of the exercise is to force Iran to stop building nuclear weapons? Or has the Obama administration decided to just concern themselves with political game-playing, fiddling furiously while Tehran glows?

this bloody takes the cake….

hello congress?
why aren’t you shouting this from the rooftops for cripes sakes??

cmsinaz on April 29, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Wow, just wow. Obama letting Russia and China aid Iran is not helpful.

I think we need to know: is there is an expiration date on an officer’s oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic?

NaCly dog on April 29, 2010 at 11:46 AM

Sarkozy was right, Obama is insane.

jukin on April 29, 2010 at 11:46 AM

a capella on April 29, 2010 at 11:44 AM

help us obi-wan-bibi, you are our only hope

cmsinaz on April 29, 2010 at 11:48 AM

Obama trying to weaken sanctions against Iran?

What sanctions? They do anything they want, and buy anything they want, with no adverse consequences whatsoever.

jwolf on April 29, 2010 at 11:50 AM

China, Russia softest hit.

This bit of snark below the picture was pretty good.

jwolf on April 29, 2010 at 11:51 AM

He’s not insane. He simply has instincts and objectives which far too many on the Right cannot or choose not to understand. Obama wants Iran to obtain nuclear capability. He wants Israel to feel threatened and marginalized. Ultimately, he wants Israel put out of business. If this sounds extreme to you, you don’t “get” the Left.

rrpjr on April 29, 2010 at 11:52 AM

I guess this bho can have a chat about this with the little iran worm when the worm comes to the UN soon. Maybe this bho can have russia, china, and the worm for lunch at the wh. They will probably come in the front door, not the servants entrance.
L

letget on April 29, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Bomb, Bibi, Bomb.

ElRonaldo on April 29, 2010 at 11:54 AM

Has the White House forgotten that the entire point of the exercise is to force Iran to stop building nuclear weapons? Or has the Obama administration decided to just concern themselves with political game-playing, fiddling furiously while Tehran glows?

Rhetorical questions, yes?

Midas on April 29, 2010 at 11:58 AM

The only reason I can come up with at the moment for this recent bout of idiocy is that President Obama is trying to flatter Russia and China. Perhaps he is thinking a nuclear Iran will be easily contained so he is trying to at least score brownie points with two other fledgling world powers in the process?

I don’t know, this man’s thought process is baffling and dangerous.

Heralder on April 29, 2010 at 11:59 AM

hello congress?

why aren’t you shouting this from the rooftops for cripes sakes??

cmsinaz on April 29, 2010 at 11:46 AM

That would be the overwhelming-controlled-by-Democrats Congress that you speak of, yes?

Midas on April 29, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Late next year, Hillary will resign and ride to the rescue.

RobCon on April 29, 2010 at 12:01 PM

Calm down everyone. What do you want him to do, call out the SWAT team or something? It’s not as if they have tea-partying grandmas armed with grand kid pictures, bingo chips, and walkers over there.

Lily on April 29, 2010 at 12:01 PM

If you think that China is not pulling Obama’s strings with that nearly 1 $$ Trillion in US Debt they are holding (and constantly buying up more to keep us afloat and him looking at least not like a complete and total abject failure), you have your head in the sand.

Johnnyreb on April 29, 2010 at 12:01 PM

I don’t know, this man’s thought process is baffling and dangerous.

Heralder on April 29, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Dangerous, yes, but not really baffling once you’re willing to simply accept the apparent realities and congruities in his words and actions.

I think many (maybe most) aren’t willing to simply acknowledge the reality that has been on display for a few years now.

Arguments that he’s incompetent, has good intentions, doesn’t know what he’s doing, etc – very wide of the mark.

Midas on April 29, 2010 at 12:03 PM

Whose side is Obama on?

portlandon on April 29, 2010 at 12:04 PM

There is no limit to his dumbness.

fogw on April 29, 2010 at 12:06 PM

…to provide an exemption from Iran sanctions to companies based in “cooperating countries,” a move that likely would exempt Chinese and Russian concerns from penalties meant to discourage investment in Iran.

Would the United States be considered a “cooperating country”? If so, would that allow exemptions for US companies doing business with Iran?

President Obama makes me miss President Carter.

Blaise on April 29, 2010 at 12:07 PM

Whose side is Obama on?

portlandon on April 29, 2010 at 12:04 PM

Obama supports every side but the United States of American side.

NaCly dog on April 29, 2010 at 12:09 PM

“Has the White House forgotten that the entire point of the exercise is to force Iran to stop building nuclear weapons? Or has the Obama administration decided to just concern themselves with political game-playing, fiddling furiously while Tehran glows?”

In the AstroTurf world of David Axelrod and Barak Obama, appearances ARE reality. The appearance of getting tough with Iran and its enablers is the only real goal. Because, you know, the voters can’t distinguish appearances from reality. And the reality is that Obama has no desire to cross the Russians and the Chinese, no real desire to stop the mad Iranian mullahs from obtaining nuclear weapons, and undercutting Israel’s security is a plus to the Obama crew.

Besides, while Iran may be a real threat to Israel, it isn’t a real threat to Democrats. And if the Israelis light up Iranian nuke sites until they glow, it is just another crisis to exploit. Why, that would be a great reason to cut ties with Israel. Think of all that aid that could be used to promote the Obama agenda elsewhere! And a gas crisis would sure jump start the “green energy” stuff! Where’s the downside?

novaculus on April 29, 2010 at 12:10 PM

When he comes out with stronger language against AZ than against Iran, it’s completely insane. I don’t even bother asking whose side he’s on…

acleaver on April 29, 2010 at 12:14 PM

Obama famously promised during the 2008 campaign that he would engage Iran in “diplomacy with no preconditions”.

He conveniently neglected to mention he had no intention of seeking any post-conditions from Iran either.

leilani on April 29, 2010 at 12:16 PM

Actually, I think Zero has an escape plan to take the VC25000 (I REFUSE to call it Air Force One) to China via Iran then thumb his nose at what’s left of this country from his new perch on the Azure Throne.

SeniorD on April 29, 2010 at 12:22 PM

When he comes out with stronger language against AZ than against Iran, it’s completely insane. I don’t even bother asking whose side he’s on…

acleaver on April 29, 2010 at 12:14 PM

Bingo.

WitchDoctor on April 29, 2010 at 12:26 PM

Barry is all about Barry and his domestic agenda to effect “fundamental change”. He toys with our security to that end.

Barry is a disgrace.

exdeadhead on April 29, 2010 at 12:30 PM

All he wants to do is destroy our country as we know it and become a dictator. You know, the gentle and benevolent type, like Hugo and Fidel. Not a mass murderer like Joe or Mao.

Mirimichi on April 29, 2010 at 12:38 PM

So let me get this straight:
We want Iran to stop building nukes, but we won’t stop them militarily, and we don’t want anyone else to, either.
We want to have sanctions against them, but not really bad sanctions, because those who can help them the most are exempt.
We want the Middle East to be “peaceful,” but we want the looniest government in the area, the one that’s the target of the above two items, to have even more weapons… but this time, weapons directed at us.
Truly, an administration completely out of control.

n0doz on April 29, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Midas on April 29, 2010 at 12:00 PM

*smacks hand across forehead*

Duh! my bad

cmsinaz on April 29, 2010 at 12:51 PM

This must be part of his “reach-out-to-you-unclench-fist-blah-blah-blah” strategy. How exciting!

olesparkie on April 29, 2010 at 12:54 PM

I’m wondering if we should let Pres. Obama negotiate San Francisco’s sanctions against Arizona, and let the San Francisco City Council negotiate the sanctions against Iran…the City Council seems a bit tougher.

Blaise on April 29, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Our Pres. is an invertebrate.

rjoco1 on April 29, 2010 at 12:59 PM

This administration has a secret plan to deal with Iran that nobody knows anything about except the NYT. /s

scalleywag on April 29, 2010 at 1:14 PM

I’m starting to get the impression that Obama wouldn’t actually mind all that much if Iran nuked Israel.

cool breeze on April 29, 2010 at 1:35 PM

while Tehran glows?

Sorry I don’t think it will be Tehran that glows, at least not at first….
Bob

Bobnormal on April 29, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Its all about China , right ?

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cf731b28-52d2-11df-a192-00144feab49a.html

way to go Hussain , thats quite a bang up job you’ve done so far for US interests

macncheez on April 29, 2010 at 2:34 PM

macncheez on April 29, 2010 at 2:34 PM

From above link in case it doesn’t work

China has agreed to build two new civilian nuclear reactors in Pakistan, according to Chinese companies and officials in Islamabad and Beijing, in a deal that could re-ignite the global debate about nuclear commerce and proliferation.

The decision to supply reactors to Pakistan , which has a nuclear arsenal and a record of dealing with North Korea, Iran and Libya, reflects China’s growing diplomatic confidence. It also reflects Beijing’s ambition to become a global supplier of nuclear energy and underscores its view of Pakistan as a prized south Asian strategic partner .

The new deal with Pakistan, which has yet to be publicly announced, poses a dilemma for the US administration of President Barack Obama, which wants Chinese support for new sanctions on Iran but which does not want to weaken the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Non-proliferation is one of Washington’s main foreign policy goals .
China began building a nuclear reactor in Chashma in Pakistan’s Punjab province in 1991 and work on a second
rector began in 2005 and is expected to be completed next year. Under the new agreement, Chinese companies will build at least two new 650-MW reactors at Chashma.

The Obama administration could well not oppose China’s new nuclear deal with Pakistan, Mr Hibbs said, because it wanted to keep Pakistan engaged in Afghanistan and gain Chinese support over Iran’s nuclear programme. He also said the US would find it difficult to oppose China’s support for Pakistan after signing the US-India civil nuclear agreement.

Western diplomats in Islamabad said the US was likely to accept China’s growing role as a supplier of nuclear power to Pakistan.
“As long as China is not arming Pakistan with nuclear bombs, this kind of co-operation helps to deal with Pakistan’s frustration over not securing a civil nuclear agreement with the US,” said one western official. “It’s not a perfect outcome.”

macncheez on April 29, 2010 at 2:46 PM

Step 1: Enact “crippling” sanctions – applause

Step 2: Keep an eagle out for violators

Step 3: List violators as “cooperative nations”

Step 4: Announce that all the world stands united with our president in this effort – applause

Choose_Freedom on April 29, 2010 at 3:32 PM

I think I smell a rat

georgealbert on April 29, 2010 at 4:20 PM

I’m starting to get the impression that Obama wouldn’t actually mind all that much if Iran nuked Israel.

cool breeze on April 29, 2010 at 1:35 PM
============================================

Your statement implies he is neutral. No, he is anything but neutral and we all know by now that the one side he is NOT on is that of the Jews.

georgealbert on April 29, 2010 at 4:21 PM

Hmmmmm.

Are there any adults in this white house?

memomachine on April 29, 2010 at 5:43 PM