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On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leveled some of his most stinging criticism to date at an Obama administration that refuses to issue concrete ultimatums to Iran regarding that nation’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. “Those who refuse to draw red line to Iran don’t have the moral right to put a red line to Israel,” said Netanyahu during a press conference in Jerusalem. The Prime Minister’s comments were an apparent reaction to a statement made by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in an interview with Bloomberg Radio on Sunday. When asked if the administration would specify consequences for Iran’s refusal to quit its uranium enrichment program, Clinton refused to do so. “We’re not setting deadlines,” she responded.
The statement was an apparent response to a prior call by Netanyahu on Sunday for the administration to declare “red lines” regarding Tehran’s nuclear ambitions — the absence of which daily emboldens the Iranian government, as the regime will not take U.S. threats of military action seriously without them. “The sooner we establish (red lines), the greater the chances that there won’t be a need for other types of action,” the Israeli PM told Canada’s CBC News.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu’s tone was more urgent. “The world is telling Israel to wait on Iran because there is time and I ask, ‘Wait for what? Wait for when?'” Haaretz diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid quoted Mr. Netanyahu as saying, tweeting some of the Prime Minister’s comments. “Clearly, diplomacy and sanctions didn’t work. Every day that passes brings Iran closer to a nuclear bomb and that’s a fact.” Netanyahu continued elaborating. “Now if Iran knows that there is no red line, if Iran knows that there is no deadline, what will it do? Exactly what it’s doing. It’s continuing, without any interference, toward obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs.”
Netanyahu said the United States and Israel have been in talks regarding what constitutes a definable threshold of tolerance that would engender a military response were Iran to cross it. Yet Obama administration officials are apparently content to maintain their current delusional strategy — a combination of offered settlements, endless fruitless negotiations, coupled with an array of sanctions. “It’s a very challenging effort to get (Iran) to move in a way that complies with their international obligations,” Clinton said on Sunday. “But we believe that is still by far the best approach to take at this time.”
Such an approach strains credulity. The so-called “P5+1,” as in the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — America, Britain, France, China, Russia plus Germany — have engaged in three rounds of diplomatic talks with Tehran since April. Those talks, coupled with U.S. and EU sanctions on energy, trade, banking and shipping, have done absolutely nothing to dissuade Iran’s pursuit of nukes.
And why should they? Last December, in a 100-0 vote the Senate approved the most stringent sanctions against Iran to date. The measure established concrete prohibitions for any financial institutions that continued to do business with the Iranians, along with harsh penalties. Humanitarian aid was exempted and the president was granted the opportunity to implement national security waivers, classified or unclassified, every 120 days. Despite the unanimous vote on the resolution, the administration did what has become their increasingly common modus operandi with respect to congressional input: they ignored it.
It’s been downhill ever since. The Treasury Department has issued thousands of waivers for companies doing business with Iran, while China and India have been allowed to continue importing oil from the regime. Language aimed cracking down on financial transactions was made less specific. And Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) led an effort to water down sanctions against insurance companies that underwrite Iranian affiliates.
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