Obama throws nuke deal supporters in Congress under the bus

Congressional supporters of the Iran nuclear deal are livid with the Obama administration for delaying sanctions on Iran for their repeated missile tests.  High-ranking Democrats have chastised the administration for giving in to Iran's threats to walk away from the nuclear deal if any sanctions are imposed.

Washington Free Beacon:

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D., Md.), a leading supporter of the Iran deal, blasted the move, expressing disappointment with the administration’s efforts to appease Iran.

“I am disappointed that the Administration has delayed punitive action in response to Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests,” Hoyer said in a statement. “We are always in a sensitive moment in our dealings with Iran, and there is never a perfect time to undertake such actions. But Iran must know with certainty that violating U.N. Security Council resolutions, both inside and outside the scope of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), will be met with serious consequences.”

Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.), another leading deal supporter who initially praised the new sanctions, also expressed dismay at the administration’s move to delay the effort.

“I believe in the power of vigorous enforcement that pushes back on Iran’s bad behavior,” Coonstold the Wall Street Journal. “If we don’t do that, we invite Iran to cheat.”

When asked to address the issue on Sunday, a senior Obama administration official told the Free Beacon that there are still “remaining issues” that need to be addressed before new sanctions are announced.

“As we’ve said, we’ve been looking for some time‎ at options for additional actions related to Iran’s ballistic missile program based on our continued concerns about its activities, including the October 10th launch,” the senior official explained, reiterating the White House’s commitment to sanctions.

“We are considering various aspects related to additional designations, as well as evolving diplomatic work that is consistent with our national security interests,” the official said. “As always, we keep Congress informed about issues related to Iran sanctions, and will continue to do so as we work through remaining issues.”

A State Department spokesman echoed this stance, telling the Free Beacon that it continues to explore ways to increase sanctions on Iran’s ballistic missile program.

Sanctions expert Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon that the administration might reconsider new sanctions once it strikes a “side deal” with Iran.

“I would expect that the administration will return to these sanctions after cutting some kind of side deal with the Iranians offering even more unilateral concessions,” Dubowitz said.

Iran knows it has Obama over a barrel due to his overriding commitment to maintaining the nuclear deal at all costs.  They will continue to push Washington, knowing full well that the president sees the agreement as his main foreign policy "achievement" and won't risk upsetting Tehran, giving them an excuse to walk away from the deal.

That the sanctions have been delayed "indefinitely" probably means the already weak strictures against a few individuals and companies will be watered down even further, making them meaningless.  And the additional sanctions that Congress wants to enact will almost certainly be vetoed by the president.

This raises the question: is there anything that Iran will do that would force the president to get serious about sanctions?  From what we've seen so far, that doesn't appear likely.

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