Sunday, December 11, 2011
Iran Policy Conflict
Congress Rebuffs Administration Pleas to Ease Iran Sanctions
Republicans and Democrats are pressing ahead with sanctions that would target foreign banks that do business with Iran's Central Bank. Tough sanctions are the most viable option short of a military strike on Iran. The sanctions measure sponsored by Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., was added to a broader defense bill now the subject of closed-door negotiations.
Sending the Wrong Signals to Iran -Editorial
Iran has been showing signs of increasing nervousness about the possibility that its nuclear program will come under attack by Israel or the U.S. From the West's point of view, this alarm is good: The more Iran worries about a military attack, the more likely it is to scale back its nuclear activity. The only occasion in which Tehran froze its weaponization program came immediately after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when it feared it might be the next American target.
What doesn't make sense is a public spelling out of reasons against military action - like that delivered by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last Friday. Alarmed Iranian leaders could well conclude that they have no reason for concern after all.
The administration is resisting pressure from allies such as France and from Congress to sanction the Iranian central bank. The administration's stance resembles Mr. Panetta's message. In effect, it is signaling that it is determined to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon - unless it means taking military or diplomatic risks, or paying an economic price.
The Importance of Sanctioning Iran's Central Bank -Ilan Berman
The Administration worries about the potential impact of such a designation on global oil prices. However, countries like Saudi Arabia have already indicated their willingness to ramp up oil output in order to offset any commodity price increases that would occur if and when Iranian oil goes offline. And if Washington makes judicious use of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to mitigate price spikes in the global energy market, the effects on domestic consumers are likely to be more minimal still.