Our IPS colleague Barbara Slavin has a story on the U.S.’s push for a new sanctions despite the upcoming negotiations (as part of the P5+1) with Iran next month in Turkey:
WASHINGTON, Dec 15, 2010 (IPS) – The Barack Obama administration is preparing a new batch of sanctions against Iran to be announced next week in advance of nuclear talks in Turkey.
Two Iran experts in Washington who are usually well briefed about U.S. Iran policy said more Iranian officials would be designated as abusers of human rights on top of eight sanctioned earlier this year. That would deny them the right to travel to the U.S. and freeze any assets they might hold in this country.
Gary Samore, White House coordinator on non-proliferation, told a neoconservative organisation, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, last week that the U.S. would “maintain and even increase pressure” against Iran so long as negotiations produced no progress on curbing Iran’s nuclear programme.
Asked by IPS if that meant new punishments before a meeting expected in January in Istanbul, Samore said, “I think it would be an important message to send to take additional measures.”
Weirdly enough, Samore’s speech followed a panel discussion by ultra-hardliners about the “kinetic option,” i.e., a military attack on Iran, and Samore said that he “agreed with a great deal of what was said, probably more than I can publicly admit to.” That’s unsettling, to say the least, and afterwards I asked Samore about it in the hallway outside. He refused to clarify what he meant—but it seemed obvious.
The FDD conference was heavily focused on ratcheting-up sanctions — it seemed a point of broad agreement among all participants.
Yet the question remains: Why now? Why push for new sanctions in the next month right before the U.S. returns to the table with Iran? Why just ahead of what one hopes will lead to a confidence-building deal?
The two-track path pursued by the administration — pressure and engagement — shouldn’t mean that the United States can’t pull back on one (pressure) for just a month in the hope that a small piece of the other (engagement) can work out in good faith.