Watering Down the New Iran Sanctions Bill

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Despite claiming to be doing everything he can to pressure the Iranians to suspend uranium enrichment and give up their ambition to build a nuclear bomb, President Barack Obama and Democrats in the Senate are seeking to water down congressional sanctions on Iran passed in the House last December.

Specifically, the administration is seeking to weaken sanctions dealing with the insurance and banking industries — two high-powered lobbies in Washington — who stand to lose millions of dollars if the sanctions take effect. The bill has been stuck in limbo since May as differences between the Senate and the House version have to be ironed out before Congress can vote on the entire package.

A vote on the measure is expected before Congress adjourns for the August recess next week.

In Iran, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has made it clear that sanctions will not deter the Iranians from continuing their enrichment activities. But the sanctions are beginning to bite very hard for ordinary citizens, as inflation and shortages have hit the Iranian economy hard in recent months.

The sanctions maneuvering in Congress and the harsh effects being felt by the Iranian people serves as a backdrop to the continuing efforts by the European Union to engage the Iranians in serious discussions about their nuclear program. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will meet with the lead Iranian negotiator “soon” to see if they can get the moribund talks restarted.

The House version of the sanctions bill passed overwhelmingly last December. It largely targeted insurance companies who do business with the Iranian oil industry and transactions by the Iranian Central Bank. The Washington Free Beacon reports that the sanctions would punish “any insurance company that underwrites activities that bolster the Iranian oil industry. Insurance providers could be sanctioned for underwriting shipping companies, cargo carriers, or airlines that have been subject to sanctions.” The measure would also make it easier to ferret out Iranian front companies that Tehran has set up to avoid sanctions on its oil industry.

This is vital because Iran has been able to circumvent restrictions on selling oil by creating a blizzard of fake companies. Emanuele Ottolengh, writing in the Weekly Standard, explains:

Whenever an Iranian company’s ties emerge to proliferation efforts or to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a new company is incorporated with a yet unblemished record to take over the business of the sanctioned entity. By the time the West catches up, Iran has already prepared the papers for the next front company.

And the West has a hard time “catching up” because of international rules that require proof that the entity is violating the sanctions regime. Since much of the information comes via intelligence agencies who are reluctant to reveal their methods, regulators must find other means to prove that Iran is cheating. It hardly matters, as Ottolengh notes:

In short, until a complete shutdown of all exports of technology is introduced and the oil embargo is enforced without discounts, waivers, and exceptions, the IRGC, guardian of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, will continue to thrive, and our efforts to block Iran’s progress towards nuclear weapons will only make it costlier and more slowly for Iran, but will ultimately fail to stop its leaders from their deadly pursuit.

And those waivers have been legion. The Obama administration has granted thousands of them to individual companies which allows them to continue to do business with the Islamic Republic, as well as granting permission to China and India to circumvent the oil embargo and purchase crude from Iran. How serious is the president about applying “crippling” sanctions to Iran when he and the Senate Democrats are pulling the teeth from what once was considered a very tough bill?

For instance, one of the major restrictions was aimed directly at the Iranian Central Bank. Congress had pressured the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, a consortium of big banks, to prevent Iranian banks from transferring funds internationally by refusing to supply them with the electronic means to do so. This would have put a severe crimp in the Iranian financial sector. But the banking industry has apparently succeeded in watering down that provision. Along with insurance companies who are pushing to weaken the bill for their own commercial reasons, some Republicans think the bill “won’t even be worth the paper it’s printed on.”

“This is really a game of whack-a-mole,” said Mark Dubowitz, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an expert on Iranian sanctions. “These are incremental measures. What are needed now are measures more akin to economic warfare than these targeted, pinpoint measures.”

Thanks to Harry Reid, President Obama, and the banking and insurance lobbies, it doesn’t appear likely.

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  • ★FALCON★

    Sanctions are the hallmark of the political debating society known as the Democrats / Left. In other words – kick the ball down the road to a time when Iran will be much more dangerous and someone else will need to deal with it.

    • Looking4Sanity

      Isn't it amazing? Every time they are trusted with power, they cause a new and quagmire-like problem(s). Then they step aside and blame the opposition for what they have done…and people buy it hook, line and sinker every time! It doesn't speak well of the average American intellect, does it? Our problems go much deeper than mere politics!

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

        Children do the same thing, only they don't intentionally destroy the nation and endanger the world in the process.

        • Looking4Sanity

          Also, when children do it, their parents don't usually fall for it.

    • Jim_C

      Kind of like Republicans with the economy?

  • Steve Chavez

    "Specifically, the administration is seeking to weaken sanctions dealing with the insurance and banking industries — two high-powered lobbies in Washington — who stand to lose millions of dollars if the sanctions take effect." AH, FOR THE ALMIGHTY BUCK AND BANKS THAT THEY LOVE TO HATE. I surely hope the Occupy Wall Street crowd doesn't hear about this when the Obama and the Democrats are putting EVIL MONEY before stopping an EVIL REGIME'S INTENTIONS!

    These sanctions are toothless since the Democrats Russian and Chinese comrades veto any meaningful UN sanctions on Iran and now Syria, both proxies of Putin. Obama also doesn't want to antagonize his MASTERS AND WILL BEND OVER BACKWARDS TO LET PUTIN TAKE OVER THE MIDDLE EAST BY EVEN GIVING IRAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS which will end any plans of an Israeli attack just like China giving N. Korea their nukes to end plans of a S. Korean/U.S. invasion.

    The world is still dealing with Jimmy Carter's IRAN FOR FORTY YEARS and the world will be dealing with OBAMA'S ARAB SPRING/MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD FOR CENTURIES!

  • patriothere

    How do you expect to use diplomacy with iran when you pass more and more sanctions. The west is not serious in making peace. They are only interested in more and more war. More and more blood must be spilled to appease jehova. More and more blood must be spilled to appease yahweh.

    • Looking4Sanity

      Why don't you go preach your pacifist crap to the Jihadi Islamist crowd? Is there no depraved or perverted cause you are unwilling to endorse in the name of "peace"?!? Is there any avenue of attack you are unwilling to use in pursuit of bashing Christians and Jews?!?

      You are one sick, twisted individual.



      More and more blood must be spilled to appease the false prophet muhammed.

      That's why 17,000+ dead in Syria and the usual FAKE "anti-war" crowd are nowhere to be seen.

    • poppakap

      Neville Chamberlain couldn't have said it better. Nothing works better than appeasement!


    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

      Oh look, you snuck off and posted and comment where you didn't think I'd notice.

      Did Wee put you up to it while you were coordinating off forum?
      You two, do you really think he can coach you into being less lame as a paid hack for Iranian interests?

  • Ghostwriter

    idiothere,the Iranian mullahs don't care about world opinion. They're just a bunch of fanatics who want to kill people who aren't like them. Why don't you wake up and smell the jihad?

  • http://vnnforum.com DeShawn

    You jews blame the banking industry, but you CONTROL the banks and you know it! Don’t) pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. No more jewish wars for israel!

    • reader

      Don't forget to check your morning drink – this is where the Jews usually pee to get one of yours.

    • UCSPanther

      You missed the 1930s by approximately 80 years, nazi.

    • effemall

      Nobody with any couth would pee on your leg. The appropriate thing is to pee in your eye and call it piss.


      Dear DeSHlTler,


    • kasandra

      Naw, we don't control the banks. But we do control the kosher delis. Put that in your pipe and smoke it (instead of whatever it is you're usually smoking).

    • BS77

      DeShawn is one of those rare individuals whose IQ is the same as his shoe size.

  • Phil

    Barclays Probed on £7bn Bailout by Wealthy Sheikhs
    July 28, 2012

    THE crisis at BARCLAYS got even WORSE yesterday — as it revealed regulators are probing its credit crunch bailout by wealthy Sheikhs.

  • Phil

    Barclays is being investigated over £12billion of investment from Middle East royals that saved it from being nationalised.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2180016/B

  • effemall

    When it comes to appropriate action without the loss of lives of your own team, Israel has proved itself over and over again – Entebbe, Iraq and Syria. The free world is waiting for their performance in Iran and if there is a God then hopefully he'll help them.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

    Obama, like other facist dictators likes to say one thing and do another.

    For any 'journalist' worth paying attention to, they understand with leadership you have to see what they do, not what they say.

  • weroinnm

    The Vetting: ‘Obama, Radical Islam and the Soros Connection’! http://wethepeopleusa.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the
    “Food For Thought”
    Semper Fi!

    • Phil

      If he never tore up his Communist party card….publicly..for all the world to see…then he is still a member.

  • kasandra

    "To that end, the West is still giving it the old college try." Sorry but I can't agree. On July 2, the Wall Street Journal reported that the administration has essentially waived the sanctions that are in place for all 20 of Iran's top 20 trading partners. That's not trying very hard at all, is it?

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

    What, did your mom sneak up behind me?

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

    Yes, facist dictator.
    He's attacked and imposed government control from the finance sector to the healthcare sector.

    He's ignore the constitution from lame duck appointments when 'he' decided congress really wasn't in session to the oil drilling freeze in the gulf.

    Besides, what would an iranian paid hack know or care about our president, even one that coves for iran and backs their minions in the arab spring?

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

    No, it wasn't you. I said it. And we know you have already admitted to being paid to be here.

    6 minutes ago @ Breitbart.com – Protests to greet Ahma… · 1 reply · 0 points
    I'm like jesus, I'm gonna chase you money changers out of the temple and out of town and of course out of this forum. Me and ohsoquiet and a few other REAL AMERICANS who are being PAID to be here like you Israeli PR men. I'm here to chase you filth out.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

    And you can't show where I was wrong.
    Personal attacks may be all you're able to manage.
    But you just can't get around the the facts as I laid them out, can you?