Friday, April 10, 2015

If there is no deal, that's a reason not to pass harsher sanctions at this point

Regarding the Ayatollah Khamenei's statements yesterday indicating that he has a different impression about what the U.S. and Iran agreed to:
“As each new day reveals a new disagreement, it’s increasingly clear that Iran, in fact, failed to reach agreement with the United States and its partners on a political framework that addresses all parameters of a comprehensive agreement,” said Senator Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois. who has led an effort to impose new sanctions on Iran — a step President Obama says is clearly intended to blow up any progress that has been made.
Doesn't the Ayatollah's statement lead to the opposite conclusion, that there is no reason to impose new harsher sanctions at this time? Even if you're against the U.S.-Iran deal, Khamenei's statements suggest that there isn't really a deal so there's no reason to do anything to fuck it up. In fact, it is much better to let the agreement fall apart on its own than to have the deal crash because of something that the U.S. Congress does. If you want to maintain international pressure on Iran after this effort fails, then the failure has to be perceived by the world community, and especially the Europeans, as Iran's fault.

I think the problem is that Republicans in Congress just do not see that big picture. They view the negotiations as an Obama administration effort rather than an American effort. If they blow up the deal--or even blow up a non-deal but are viewed as the reason it failed to be a deal--then the sanction regime that brought Iran to the table will end. The rest of the world has a lot of business interests in Iran and they want Iranian oil. They are not going to hurt their own business interests indefinitely and so they will eventually end their sanctions against the country. Once that happens, American sanctions won't matter. Iran has spent the last 35 years building an economy that is not dependent on American investment. Sanctions are just not an effective weapon against Tehran unless they are multilateral. If Senator Kirk really wants to impose deeper economic pain on Iran, he should be aware of that.