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Romney Campaign Explanation on Iran

Romney Campaign Explanation on Iran

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Published by The Washington Post

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Published by: The Washington Post on Mar 05, 2012
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11/19/2013

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Romney campaign talking points to justify claim that Obama “has failed to put in place crippling sanctions against

Iran.”
(1) When the UN voted on a 4th round of sanctions in 2010, President Obama failed to win Russian cooperation to implement tough sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran and other financial institutions. The Russians adamantly rejected such sanctions, and Obama backed off. See this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/world/middleeast/10sanctions.html?pagewanted=all. Key quote: "The United States had sought broader measures against Iran’s banks, insurance industry and other trade, but China and Russia were adamant that the sanctions not affect Iran’s day-to-day economy. Washington and Beijing were wrangling down to the last day over which banks to include on the list, diplomats said, and in the end only one appeared on the list of 40 new companies to be blacklisted." (2) That fourth round of sanctions failed to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program or allow for meaningful inspections. (3) The Central Bank and other sanctions imposed in the past few months -- three years into Obama's term -- were done not by Obama, but by the Kirk-Menendez Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Obama vigorously opposed that amendment, tried to water it down, and eventually won some discretion to grant exceptions to the sanctions. See this article: http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/12/01/menendez_livid_at_obama_team_s_push_to_ shelve_iran_sanctions. In implementing them, he is only following the lead of Congress. (4) Even with these new sanctions, Obama attached a signing statement to the NDAA indicating that the sanctions requirements were non-binding on him. He wrote that "section . . . 1245 [the Iran sanctions section] would interfere with my constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations by directing the Executive to take certain positions in negotiations or discussions with foreign governments. Like section 1244, should any application of these provisions conflict with my constitutional authorities, I will treat the provisions as non-binding." Signing statement is here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/12/31/statement-president-hr-1540 (5) Obama's implementation of the sanctions has undermined the sanctions' requirement for countries seeking "exceptions" to "significantly reduce" their Iranian crude oil purchases by leaving the definition of "significant" to the broad discretion of the Secretary of State. By failing to require a minimum reduction percentage or amount, the Administration rendered the sanctions largely symbolic rather than substantive. As long as the Secretary feels like a given country has significantly reduced its purchases of Iranian crude oil over a six month period - with the smallest of amounts now being able to qualify - that country's banks can continue oil transactions with the Central Bank of Iran carte blanche. In addition, the regulations did not define what sort of “strict conditions” must be imposed on U.S. transactions by foreign financial institutions that are found to be in violation of the Menendez-Kirk legislation. So again, discretion is retained to let such institutions off with what could amount to a slap on the wrist. Because of this watering down of the sanctions, Senators Menendez and Kirk are proposing an amendment to the NDAA that defines "significant reduction" as no lower than 18 percent on an annualized basis and to bolster the definition of "strict conditions" to ensure the President does not do an end-run around the sanctions. See this article: http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/senators-look-advise-treasury-iransanctions-implementation/

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