Obama eying exemptions for Iran sanctions bill

Rick Moran
The president is looking to carve out exemptions for some countries in the Iran sanctions bill now moving through Congress.

Guess which country tops the list of being given a pass:

The administration's plan in effect would label China as a country cooperating in the U.S.-led drive to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and appears to be part of a broader strategy to prod Beijing to vote for a new sanctions resolution. The three previous resolutions enjoyed broad support in the 15-member council, so any result that includes several abstentions or no votes would be viewed as a major diplomatic setback.But the administration's lobbying for a Chinese exemption has raised eyebrows in Congress and angered several allies, most notably South Korea and Japan, which would not be exempted under the administration's plan.

"We're absolutely flabbergasted," said one senior official from a foreign country friendly to the United States. "Tell me what exactly have the Chinese done to deserve this?" Japan and South Korea, which are U.S. allies, have raised the issue with the Obama administration.

Among other things, the legislation tightens existing U.S. sanctions on Iran by targeting sales of refined petroleum products to the country and the administration would want it to include an exemption for the six countries seeking to negotiate with Iran on its nuclear program. The six are the five permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, France, Russia, China and Britain -- and Germany. The most controversial, by far, would be China.

Of course, China is one of Iran's biggest customers - and vice versa. Exempting them defangs the entire measure, making it virtually worthless.

But that's Obama's preference. He thinks the milquetoast sanctions from the UN are better - not because they would make Iran think twice about their nuclear program but because it plays to his "cooperation" theme, rather than the Congressional bill that smacks too much of America going it alone.

Stopping Iran from making the bomb takes a back seat to appearances - about what we've come to expect from this president.

 

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky

The president is looking to carve out exemptions for some countries in the Iran sanctions bill now moving through Congress.

Guess which country tops the list of being given a pass:

The administration's plan in effect would label China as a country cooperating in the U.S.-led drive to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and appears to be part of a broader strategy to prod Beijing to vote for a new sanctions resolution. The three previous resolutions enjoyed broad support in the 15-member council, so any result that includes several abstentions or no votes would be viewed as a major diplomatic setback.

But the administration's lobbying for a Chinese exemption has raised eyebrows in Congress and angered several allies, most notably South Korea and Japan, which would not be exempted under the administration's plan.

"We're absolutely flabbergasted," said one senior official from a foreign country friendly to the United States. "Tell me what exactly have the Chinese done to deserve this?" Japan and South Korea, which are U.S. allies, have raised the issue with the Obama administration.

Among other things, the legislation tightens existing U.S. sanctions on Iran by targeting sales of refined petroleum products to the country and the administration would want it to include an exemption for the six countries seeking to negotiate with Iran on its nuclear program. The six are the five permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, France, Russia, China and Britain -- and Germany. The most controversial, by far, would be China.

Of course, China is one of Iran's biggest customers - and vice versa. Exempting them defangs the entire measure, making it virtually worthless.

But that's Obama's preference. He thinks the milquetoast sanctions from the UN are better - not because they would make Iran think twice about their nuclear program but because it plays to his "cooperation" theme, rather than the Congressional bill that smacks too much of America going it alone.

Stopping Iran from making the bomb takes a back seat to appearances - about what we've come to expect from this president.

 

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky