The strengths and weaknesses of the new sanctions on Iran

Rick Moran
Dr. Barry Rubin of the GLORIA Center has an excellent analysis of the new sanctions on Iran that the Obama administration has negotiated - both the pluses and minuses.

A sampling:

The Obama Administration took about 18 months to do precisely what it promised: a. try engagement; b. increase sanctions. The resolution basically gives the UN seal of approval for greater efforts by Western states.The question is whether it was worth 18 months to get the UN seal of approval. Obviously, Turkey, Lebanon, Brazil and lots of other countries--that is the same ones convinced 18 months ago against strong action--were not persuaded by the U.S. strategy.

An alternative U.S. strategy could have worked with supportive allies-including Britain, France, and Germany to have tougher sanctions months ago. This would not only hit Iran harder but also signal other countries that they should follow the U.S. example. Instead, the Obama Administration acted in a multilateral context, more as a first among equals rather than as a leader, but the result is a far weaker and more ineffective outcome.

[...]

The Wall Street Journal provides the answer: "Many provisions contain loopholes allowing countries to evade their intent: They only urge, rather than require, countries to comply." And that's what changed Beijing's mind: the proposal will have no effect on its behavior and its huge energy projects, for example to increase Iran's ability to refine petroleum progress (and thus able to defy any tougher sanctions) are continuing full-speed ahead.

One of those loopholes allowing Russia to sell technologically advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Tehran might just guarantee an Israeli strike on those nuclear facilities sooner rather than later. That's because Israel may be forced to initiate the attack before those missiles are operational. They are a grave threat to Israeli aircraft and would take a toll on any strike force the IDF would launch.

Will the Obama administration now greenlight congressional sanctions which are much more serious? This is not likely in that it would hurt China and Russia if we tried to cut off refined oil products like gasoline that Iran is dependent upon. So it looks like we'll have to settle for these milquetoast sanctions instead of some that bite.

Dr. Barry Rubin of the GLORIA Center has an excellent analysis of the new sanctions on Iran that the Obama administration has negotiated - both the pluses and minuses.

A sampling:

The Obama Administration took about 18 months to do precisely what it promised: a. try engagement; b. increase sanctions. The resolution basically gives the UN seal of approval for greater efforts by Western states.

The question is whether it was worth 18 months to get the UN seal of approval. Obviously, Turkey, Lebanon, Brazil and lots of other countries--that is the same ones convinced 18 months ago against strong action--were not persuaded by the U.S. strategy.

An alternative U.S. strategy could have worked with supportive allies-including Britain, France, and Germany to have tougher sanctions months ago. This would not only hit Iran harder but also signal other countries that they should follow the U.S. example. Instead, the Obama Administration acted in a multilateral context, more as a first among equals rather than as a leader, but the result is a far weaker and more ineffective outcome.

[...]

The Wall Street Journal provides the answer: "Many provisions contain loopholes allowing countries to evade their intent: They only urge, rather than require, countries to comply." And that's what changed Beijing's mind: the proposal will have no effect on its behavior and its huge energy projects, for example to increase Iran's ability to refine petroleum progress (and thus able to defy any tougher sanctions) are continuing full-speed ahead.

One of those loopholes allowing Russia to sell technologically advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Tehran might just guarantee an Israeli strike on those nuclear facilities sooner rather than later. That's because Israel may be forced to initiate the attack before those missiles are operational. They are a grave threat to Israeli aircraft and would take a toll on any strike force the IDF would launch.

Will the Obama administration now greenlight congressional sanctions which are much more serious? This is not likely in that it would hurt China and Russia if we tried to cut off refined oil products like gasoline that Iran is dependent upon. So it looks like we'll have to settle for these milquetoast sanctions instead of some that bite.