The president of the United States does not like the country he leads. He may sometimes feel the need to say or do something to suggest that he has America’s interests at heart, but the weight of evidence that he does not accumulates and becomes too massive to miss. Not only does he apologize for America abroad, he even has his envoys deplore its laws in talks with foreign regimes, as Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner did recently to the Communist Chinese. And he personally endorsed the criticism of the same laws – Arizona’s new legislation dealing with illegal immigration – made by Mexico’s President Calderon, when the two of them stood side by side on the White House lawn.
And now it emerges that he initiated or at the very least advocated the agreement that Iran made with Brazil and Turkey to have some uranium enriched for it – a ploy that his administration condemns as an effort to stall new UN Security Council sanctions against Iran. The sanctions would be weak, and very unlikely to stop Iran making nuclear bombs, but the administration boasts of getting Russia and China to vote for them.
Obama performed this outrageous, underhand act last month in a letter to President da Silva of Brazil.
The New York Times reports:
Brazilian officials on Wednesday provided a full copy of the three-page letter President Obama sent to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil in April, arguing that it laid the groundwork for the agreement they reached in Tehran.
“There continues to be some puzzlement” among Brazilian officials about why American official[s] would reject the deal now, a senior Brazilian official said. “The letter came from the highest authority and was very clear.”
So there was a fourth party to the agreement, which was announced one day before the US presented its draft resolution on Iran sanctions to the Security Council.
As it was the work of all four leaders, Prime Minister Erdogan and Presidents Ahmadinejad, da Silva, and Obama, it should rightly be called the Iran-Brazil-Turkey-US Agreement.
Jonathan Tobin, writing at Commentary-Contentions, points out:
If the mere fact of this new deal wasn’t enough to undermine international support for sanctions, the revelation that Brazil acted with the express written permission of Obama must be seen as a catastrophe for international efforts to restrain Tehran. Why should anyone take American rhetoric about stopping Iran seriously if Obama is now understood to have spent the past few months pushing for sanctions in public while privately encouraging third parties who are trying to appease the Iranians?
At last the day came when China and Russia agreed to support a US resolution in the UN Security Council that would make Iran regret it had defied the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, promise never to make nuclear bombs, stop threatening to destroy Israel, and utterly renounce its wicked ways.
As you can imagine, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton felt immensely triumphant – not so much because Iran would now be forced to do all that, but because getting Russia and China on their side had been really hard. It was especially great for Hillary, as she hadn’t achieved anything else to boast about since becoming Secretary of State.
What dire punishments, what unendurable difficulties, will the resolution impose on the Iranian regime?
Sorry, we can’t tell you. The draft of the resolution has not been made public.
However, some information about it comes from unofficial sources.
One report claims that it will ban Iran from building ballistic missiles. (Which it has already done, without permission.)
And what penalties will it impose if Iran disobeys? These:
It “calls on countries to block financial transactions, including insurance and reinsurance, and ban the licensing of Iranian banks if they have information that provides reasonable grounds to believe these activities could contribute to Iranian nuclear activities.” And it “recalls the need for states to exercise vigilance over all Iranian banks, including the Central Bank, to prevent transactions contributing to proliferation activities.”
“Calls on them to”, and “recalls the need to”, but does not require them to do so.
Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN, says it will give “greater teeth” to some sanctions already imposed which haven’t proved effective, and “add strong new measures to intensify pressure on the Iranian government to resolve concerns that its nuclear program is peaceful and not aimed at producing nuclear weapons.”
And that seems to be the most that can be hoped of it.
“The draft resolution is weaker than the original Western-backed proposal, especially on financial and energy-related measures. Rather than place sanctions on Iran’s oil industry, the proposed resolution simply notes the potential connection between Iranian energy revenues and funding for the country’s nuclear program and calls on U.N. members to be aware of it.”
The draft was introduced into the Security Council last Tuesday. (It was urgent, Ambassador Rice said, but she “wouldn’t speculate on when the resolution will be put to a vote”.)
On the day before, Iran announced an agreement it had made with Turkey and Brazil [?] to send some if its low-enriched uranium to Turkey (which has as yet no enrichment facility), in exchange for higher-enriched fuel rods – which Iran will use only in an innocent medical research reactor, built long ago for Tehran by the United States. (And meanwhile, of course, it will continue with its own high-enrichment program.)
But if Iran had hoped that this little ruse, this piece of side-play with Turkey and Brazil, would thwart the resolve of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, it was underestimating the stuff they’re made of! They pressed on, confident that Russia and China were right behind them.
That is, if those two powers stuck to their side of the bargain.
The US had had to pay a price for their co-operation.
First, various provisions had to be stripped from the draft before either of them would even consider giving their nods to it.
Chiefly, the one sanction that would really hurt Iran, aimed at its oil and gas industries, had to be removed. Both China and Russia had invested too heavily in them to allow anything like that.
Next, according to another report, they had to drop sanctions against three Russian organizations that had aided Iran’s nuclear program (and that until now the Russian government had denied were giving any support at all to Iran). And “penalties against a fourth Russian entity previously accused of illicit arms sales to Syria were also lifted” as part of the deal. So were “US sanctions imposed in October 2008 against Russian state arms trader Rosoboronexport for … illicit assistance to Iran’s nuclear program.”
Now Iran may expect aid from Russia to resume or continue. (And so may Syria.)
Then China had to be paid. Part of China’s demand was that America should take no notice of certain nuclear-related transactions it has made with Pakistan, in particular its contracts to build two reactors in that country, which is already a nuclear power.
Pakistan in its turn is providing nuclear and ballistic missile technologies to both Iran and North Korea.
And North Korea has announced that it is developing a hydrogen bomb – a claim that the Obama administration refuses to believe. (North Korea recently torpedoed a South Korean ship, and warned that any retaliation will mean all-out war.)
So let’s say well done Barack, Hillary, and Susan! And thank you for keeping us safe.