Washington stuck on the sanctions track

As if to demonstrate that Washington refuses to be upstaged by lesser powers, Hillary Clinton blazed away in the campaign to impose not-quite crippling sanctions on Iran, after winning Russia and China’s agreement today on a draft resolution that will go to the Security Council.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Washington called the proposed sanctions the toughest to date, but U.S. officials acknowledged they had to be softened in key areas to gain Russian and Chinese agreement.

And even as China joined in, Beijing also praised the last-minute deal Iran made with Brazil and Turkey to try to pre-empt the sanctions, calling the two efforts “dual tracks” and leaving some uncertainty over where China would ultimately side.

The agreement on a draft U.N. resolution was reached within the last several days. Senior administration officials said the timing of the announcement was intended as a direct response to the Turkish-Brazilian pact, in which Tehran renewed an offer to swap much of its nuclear fuel outside its borders for enrichment.

“This announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken in Tehran over the last few days as any we could provide,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.

Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters that Russia would have preferred to wait a day or two after the Brazil-Iranian deal, but the U.S. wanted to put it on the table right away.

Western officials feared that the deal reached in Tehran could throw up new hurdles to the already-delayed sanctions regime.

Mrs. Clinton said Tuesday that while the U.S. believed Turkey and Brazil’s moves were “sincere efforts,” the U.S. and its fellow permanent members of the U.N. Security council were “proceeding to rally the international community on behalf of a strong sanctions resolution.”

There was no immediate, public reaction from Iranian officials late Tuesday to the announcement of a sanctions deal.

The Turkish and Brazilian efforts still could throw a wrench into the U.S. plans. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Brazil’s ambassador to the U.N., told reporters outside the Security Council after seeing the draft that Brazil wasn’t ready to engage in negotiations over the text because of the “new situation” presented by the fuel-swap deal.

“It is the first time that the Iranians, at such a high level, have put in writing the swap, which creates a new confidence building,” she said. The fuel-swap deal is not “meant to address all the issues,” she added, “but it is a very important first step and we should seize this opportunity.”

Trita Parsi says:

Washington’s reaction to the Brazilian-Turkish deal has created some apprehension in the international community. The Obama administration has worked diligently to overcome the credibility gap America developed with the international community under President George W. Bush. One element of this effort was to utilize diplomacy as a premier tool of US foreign policy.

Punitive measures such as war or sanctions would no longer be the instruments of first resort. But the reaction to the Brazilian-Turkish deal may undo some of the progress the Obama administration has achieved with the international community. Washington’s lack of appreciation for the breakthrough may fuel suspicions of whether sanctions are pursued to achieve success in diplomacy, or whether diplomacy was pursued to pave the way for sanctions – and beyond.

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2 thoughts on “Washington stuck on the sanctions track

  1. DE Teodoru

    The world is thinking of economic gains from Iran. Eventually, we’ll be alone because we think we can have it both ways while rest of the world realizes that it can’t AFFORD to go after Iran with sanctions. So we will not only lose but we’ll lose big because we are ruled by Clintonistas confidence is our marketing ability as cover-up. Ultimately, Obama will pay for giving in to cheap Clinton card-sharping that is neiter skillful nor thought through as to global consequences. We still think of Bill’s world as real world so we’ll fall down hard from shyster hubris. You can’t win Nobel Prize and then use it as a CLUB to hit Iran on the head. It is only a medal, not an oblong blunt object like the Oscar!

  2. Leondeinos

    The deal arranged by Turkey and Brazil certainly looks better for the future of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and nuclear arms control than any of the huffing and puffing out of Washington in the last year.

    With not a moment’s reflection to see what it might mean, today’s swift rejection by the Obama administration of the agreement with Iran worked out by Brazil and Turkey suggests that the US is not working for a world free of nuclear weapons. Or for peace with Iran.

    Today’s action at the UN smacks of an old tradition– American use of the UN (the IAEA is also a UN organization) to seek a world in which the US gets the only and final judgment in matters nuclear (and keeps its armaments).

    Today’s flap from the Obama administration bears a disturbing resemblance to the start of an earlier disaster of US diplomacy, in 1946, when the so-called Baruch plan (the Truman administration’s perversion of much wiser ideas enunciated in the earlier, technically informed Acheson-Lilienthal report), with its threats and demands for control, was a total failure at the United Nations and the US-Soviet nuclear arms race began.

    Recall that all the “major” officially recognized nuclear powers began their nuclear weapons program within the next four years (Britain, France, China; India, too). Today the technology is so widespread that diplomatic manipulation of the traditional sort, now being tried by Washington, is a hopeless ploy. Washington will have to lead by a different kind of example from that of the last 65 years.

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