Pressure and Threats Could Still Compel Iranian Cooperation

 

But Rubio went on to question whether the US and Europe would have the political will to exert new pressure on Iran in response to such violations, according to NewsMax. Clearly he and many other strong opponents of the president’s Iran policy do not believe that Obama would exhibit such will. But Rubio also indicated that if he were president he would not hesitate to defy Europe in order to “unilaterally re-impose more crushing and additional sanctions,” if need be. And existing information suggests that many of the American people would support such an action.

Some media reports and analysis have suggested that the window for successful application of additional economic pressure may be closing as Iran acquires limited relief during the negotiating period and looks forward to a sudden opening of its markets to the world if a nuclear accord is signed at the end of June. While it is true that Iran stands to receive at least 12 billion dollars in relief by that time, there is still room for debate about how quickly the nation can recover from the economic devastation wrought by sanctions.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal suggested that a deal would lead to an immediate opening of the taps for the Iranian oil industry, which comprises about half of the national economy. But a report by Reuters on Tuesday scaled back these claims, suggesting instead that the immediate impact of an agreement would be limited, and that it would take time for sanctions to actually be lifted.

If this more qualified assessment is correct, it may be relatively easy for the world community to re-impose or expand economic sanctions within roughly the first year after the deal. But in any event, this is certain to become increasingly more complicated as Iran builds its internal wealth and its economic relationships with other countries.

Individual players may also be able to affect the speed of Iran’s growth, for better or worse. The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the Kansas state legislature was considered a bill that would “send a message to Washington” by divesting state employee’s retirement investments from companies that do business with Iran. The direct effects of such a move would be slight, but it could cut against federal plans for encouraging investment, and may affect the political will of other entities as they consider whether to invest in the still-uncertain Iranian market.

But the Associated Press notes that the bill’s sponsor, Republican Representative Scott Schwab, also believes that more direct confrontations will be necessary in the future. “I think there will be a day that we go to war with Iran,” Schwab said, arguing that divestment would thus protect American assets.

In an editorial at the Washington Times, US Representative Mike Coffman stopped short of advocating for such a military conflict, but he did argue that simple diplomacy is unworkable and the Islamic Republic is untrustworthy. Referencing his own experiences in Iran, including a deployment in 1980 that helped to deter Tehran from closing off the Straits of Hormuz, Coffman made the case that the credible threat of a military threat can be effective in dealing with Iran and is sometimes necessary in light of the country’s commitment to state-sponsored terrorism and anti-Americanism.

“Iran’s threats should not be taken lightly,” Coffman warned. “They have taken American lives before and won’t hesitate to do so again if they think they will not suffer significant harm from doing so.”

Of course, Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism has not been limited to US targets, even if one looks only at incidents in the Western hemisphere. The issue of Iran’s past activities in South America returned to the news again on Tuesday as Argentinians recognized the 23rd anniversary of the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires. The attack took place two years before the bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association, and both acts were attributed to Hezbollah, acting under Iranian direction.

According to CNS News, Argentine lawmakers used the occasion of this anniversary to urge American and European leaders to pressure Iran on its support for terrorism in the midst of discussions over its nuclear program.

Meanwhile, the Jewish Ledger reports that efforts are still underway to expose and counteract the supposed cooperation between the Argentine government and the Iranian regime. This has been a hot button issue since federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead under suspicious circumstances just before he was schedule to give evidence of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s involvement in a deal to cover-up Iranian involvement in the AIMA bombing in exchange for favorable trade agreements.

A Brazilian newspaper has now elaborated upon the existing accusations, reporting that according to three members of the cabinet of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan government agreed to pressure Argentina on the AIMA issue as part of a broader pattern of cooperation which also involved Venezuela sharing nuclear know-how with Tehran.