White House trying to weaken Iran sanctions passed by Senate 100-0, for purely political reasons. The stench is getting intense.

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    Dec 09, 2011 2:14 AM GMT
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203501304577084393739902800.html?mod=ITP_opinion_2

    Gutting Iran Sanctions - Treasury tries to gut penalties on Tehran's central bank.

    The Obama Administration claims its economic sanctions will bring Iran's nuclear program to heel short of war. So why is it working behind the scenes to neuter the latest sanctions that passed the Senate last week, 100-0?

    The rare bipartisan compromise, led by Senators Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), imposes sanctions on anyone who does business with the Central Bank of Iran, which pays terrorists and funds the nuclear program. The White House supported such sanctions in October, after the FBI uncovered an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in a Washington, D.C. restaurant. Then it changed its mind.

    Administration officials now say that if the U.S. closes its financial system to foreign banks that do deals with Iran, then U.S. trading partners might stick with Iran and deprive Americans of their business. Senator Menendez made quick work of that one: "So we basically say to financial institutions, do you want to deal with the $300 billion [Iranian] economy, or do you want to deal with a $14 trillion [American] economy? I think that choice is pretty easy for them."

    The Treasury also claims that central-bank sanctions could destabilize Iran's economy and thus disrupt world oil markets, making prices go up and creating a windfall for Iran, which exports oil. Anything's possible, but if you fear an oil-price spike, wait until Israel bombs Tehran after it concludes the U.S. isn't serious about stopping its nuclear plans.

    The Senate passed the sanctions anyway, yet now the Administration is trying to water them down in a House-Senate conference on a defense bill. Treasury is asking the conferees to strike the Menendez-Kirk bill's most important provision, which applies the sanctions to any foreign central bank trading in oil via the Central Bank of Iran. The Administration wants the leeway to choose whether to block such banks from the U.S. financial system, or merely to "impose strict conditions" on them.

    Treasury also wants to make it easier for President Obama to exercise the waiver option that the Senate gave him in a failed attempt to earn his support. In the Senate bill, the sanctions take effect after 60 days, so the President would have to issue three waivers before the 2012 election, answering to the public each time. Treasury would have the sanctions take effect after 180 days, so Mr. Obama would have to issue only one waiver before Election Day.

    All of which suggests that the Administration's real motive for watering down the sanctions is fear that they could hurt Mr. Obama's re-election chances. The White House fears that disrupting Iran's oil exports would increase oil prices and thus the price of gasoline at the American pump.

    House conferees are led by Buck McKeon (R., Calif.) and Adam Smith (D., Wash.). We hope they help the Senate give Mr. Obama a stiffer spine to support the sanctions policy he used to favor.
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    Dec 09, 2011 4:21 AM GMT
    socalfitness saidhttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203501304577084393739902800.html?mod=ITP_opinion_2

    Gutting Iran Sanctions - Treasury tries to gut penalties on Tehran's central bank.

    The Obama Administration claims its economic sanctions will bring Iran's nuclear program to heel short of war. So why is it working behind the scenes to neuter the latest sanctions that passed the Senate last week, 100-0?

    The rare bipartisan compromise, led by Senators Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), imposes sanctions on anyone who does business with the Central Bank of Iran, which pays terrorists and funds the nuclear program. The White House supported such sanctions in October, after the FBI uncovered an Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in a Washington, D.C. restaurant. Then it changed its mind.

    Administration officials now say that if the U.S. closes its financial system to foreign banks that do deals with Iran, then U.S. trading partners might stick with Iran and deprive Americans of their business. Senator Menendez made quick work of that one: "So we basically say to financial institutions, do you want to deal with the $300 billion [Iranian] economy, or do you want to deal with a $14 trillion [American] economy? I think that choice is pretty easy for them."

    The Treasury also claims that central-bank sanctions could destabilize Iran's economy and thus disrupt world oil markets, making prices go up and creating a windfall for Iran, which exports oil. Anything's possible, but if you fear an oil-price spike, wait until Israel bombs Tehran after it concludes the U.S. isn't serious about stopping its nuclear plans.

    The Senate passed the sanctions anyway, yet now the Administration is trying to water them down in a House-Senate conference on a defense bill. Treasury is asking the conferees to strike the Menendez-Kirk bill's most important provision, which applies the sanctions to any foreign central bank trading in oil via the Central Bank of Iran. The Administration wants the leeway to choose whether to block such banks from the U.S. financial system, or merely to "impose strict conditions" on them.

    Treasury also wants to make it easier for President Obama to exercise the waiver option that the Senate gave him in a failed attempt to earn his support. In the Senate bill, the sanctions take effect after 60 days, so the President would have to issue three waivers before the 2012 election, answering to the public each time. Treasury would have the sanctions take effect after 180 days, so Mr. Obama would have to issue only one waiver before Election Day.

    All of which suggests that the Administration's real motive for watering down the sanctions is fear that they could hurt Mr. Obama's re-election chances. The White House fears that disrupting Iran's oil exports would increase oil prices and thus the price of gasoline at the American pump.

    House conferees are led by Buck McKeon (R., Calif.) and Adam Smith (D., Wash.). We hope they help the Senate give Mr. Obama a stiffer spine to support the sanctions policy he used to favor.
    Sen Menendez needs to get his numbers right before attempting to spout bullshit.

    Iran's economy is 18th in the world.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Countries_by_GDP_PPP

    And his 300 billion number is shy by about 2/3 the actual number.
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    Dec 09, 2011 4:28 AM GMT
    The take-away:

    Oil interests figure its time to drive gas and heating oil back over the $4.00/gal mark.

    Meh.
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    Dec 09, 2011 3:37 PM GMT
    AlphaTrigger saidThe take-away:

    Oil interests figure its time to drive gas and heating oil back over the $4.00/gal mark.

    Meh.

    So you are suggesting that all 100 Senators voted on behalf of oil interests?