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December 25, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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PAGE 16A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 25, 2009 Obama administration presses m00,0000ltilateral approach on Iran By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)mThe Obama administration con- tinues to favor multilateral sanctions when it comes to pressuring Iran, senior of- ficials have said. "We want to create coali- tions," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a Dec. 10 interview with A1 Jazeera when she was asked if the United States was nearing the point when it would im- pose sanctions unilaterally to persuade Iran to make its nu- clear program more transpar- ent. "We want to find common ground with people. There are many things we could go off and do unilaterally, as the prioradministration certainly demonstrated. That's not our chosen path. We would prefer to take some more time, to be more patient, to bring people together to make the case." Clinton rebuffed claims that the United States and Europe had failed to persuade other major powers to make a common cause on the Iran issue, referring to the recent resolution by the Interna- tional Atomic EnergyAgency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, condemning Iran for failing to cooperate with its inspectors. "The vote that was accu- mulated condemning Iran, calling for Iran to act, was shocking to some people because it was so unified," she said. "It wasn't just the United States. It was Russia, it was China and many other countries. That's because we have spent time listening and working hard to create this common ground and these common interests, and we've done it out of a sense of mutual respect." Congress was pressing forward last week with a package of unilateral sanc- tions. Clinton's spokesman, lan Kelly, denied reports that the State Department was lobbying against the package, but added that the Obama administration prefers the multilateral route. "We want to make sure that whatever kind of package is being considered, that it's the right kind of package," Kelly U.N. photo The United Nations Security Council, meeting Dec. 10, listens to a briefing from the chairman of the committee established pursuant to the 2006 resolution on Iran sanctions. said in a briefing Dec. 11. "And I think we also want to be sure that whatever we do, we do it multilaterally. I mean, that just makes good practical sense. Any kind of pressure is going to be more effective if it's implemented broadly and not simply bilaterally." Representatives of the ma- jor powers--the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Ger- many and China--will meet before year's end to consider the next steps with Iran in the wake of its rejection of an offer to enrich its uranium to medical research levels in exchange for greater nuclear transparency. The White House on Dec. 11 endorsed a statement is- sued by the Council of Euro- pean Union, the EU's foreign policy arm, that warned of a "clear response" to Iranian recalcitrance, an allusion to enhanced sanctions. "Iran's persistent failure to meet its international ob- ligations and Iran's apparent lack of interest in pursuing negotiations require a clear response, including through appropriate measures," the EU statement said. The White House endorse- ment echoed that language. "If Iran continues to fail to bring its nuclear program into full compliance with the requirements of the United Nations Security Council and the IAEA, there will be consequences and we will be consulting closely with our partners to ensure those consequences are credible," the White House said. "We will continue to assess Iran's responses, and together with our partners will take appro- priate measures in keeping with our common approach to the Iranian nuclear program." Obama and Kerry slowing sanctions legislation push By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- Unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran are on track, Senate officials say, but taking the slow train. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, needs time to consider the bill, his spokesman, Frederick Jones, told JTA. Jones strongly refuted ru- mors that Kerry would keep the legislation from reaching the floor, although that is in his power as a committee chairman. "We're working with the administration to reach a solution that achieves the minimum all parties" want, Jones said. "There's no hold, it's not dead, it's just they're anticipating the legislative process." That means it's extremely unlikely the Senate will rush the legislation before year's end, as had been reported earlier, especially considering other pressing matters. The go-slow approach takes some of the wind out of the version of the bill, the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, that passed Dec. 15 in the U.S. House of Representatives version. Both versions target Iran's import of refined pe- troleum; the deleterious state of Iran's refining capabilities means it imports up to 40 per- cent of its refined oil, despite being a major oil producer. It has become increasingly clear in recent days that the Obama administration wants to slow down the prospect of unilateral sanctions while it attempts to mass interna- tional support for multilateral sanctions aimed at forcing Iran to make its nuclear work- ings transparent. The most pronounced language has appeared in a letter from James Steinberg, the deputy secretary of state, to Kerry's committee. The let- ter, Jones said, helped prompt Kerry's concerns about the legislation. "We are entering a critical period of intense diplomacy to impose significant inter- national pressure on Iran," Are You Keeping Your Career Options Open? INDEPENDENT MARKETING ASSOCIATES NEEDED FOR PRE-PAID LEGAL Get the money you need when you need itl Now is the time to plan your strategy and consider the advantages of running your own business ! Be Your Own Boss! PPD Full-Time Part-Time Unlimited Income Potential CALL GORDEV INC., EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AT 407.678.3310 FOR FULL DETAILS Steinberg said in the letter, which was first leaked to Foreign Policy magazine. "This requires that we keep the focus on Iran. At this juncture, I am concerned that this legislation, in its current form, might weaken rather than strengthen international unity and support for our ef- forts. In addition to the tim- ing, we have serious substan- tive concerns, including the lack of flexibility, inefficient monetary thresholds and pen- alty levels, and blacklisting that could cause unintended foreign policy consequences." The pushback comes as many pro-Israel groups have lined up behind the proposed sanctions. One official of a group pushing hard for the legislation cautioned not to lose the forest for the trees-- the bottom line of the White House backing sanctions, now or in the near future, was good news. That Obama wanted tweaks to the legisla- tion was to be expected, the official said. Still, what exists now is a sit- uation in which many major Jewish groups--including the American Israel PublicAffairs Committee, the Conference of Presidents of MajorAmerican Jewish Organizations and the Reform movement--are pushing hard for bills that Obama and Kerry would prefer to work slowly and carefully. OnlyAmericans for Peace Now is publicly aligned with the administration in counsel- ing changes to the proposed sanctions. In his letter, Steinberg did not elaborate about his con- cerns, and Jones said Kerry has yet to articulate his con- cerns. But an analysis of the Senate bill points to specific areas where the broad criti- cisms Steinberg lays out in his letter would apply. "Inefficient monetary thresholds," for instance, likely refers to a passage of the Senate bill incorporating language from an earlier ver- sion of the measure initiated by Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Official White House Photo by Pete Souza President Obama meets in the Oval Office on Oct. 21 with U.S. Sen.John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who is heeding an appeal from the administra. tion to go slow on Iran sanctions legisration. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). The passage effectively would reduce the "trigger" to impose sanc- tions from $20 million in business per year with the energy sector to $1 million a year--small change in the oil business and hard to track, hence Steinberg's allusion to its "inefficiency." The "blacklisting" appar- ently refers to the bill's re- quirement that the admin- istration report those enti- ties-individuals, companies or countries--meeting the $20 million threshold every six months. (The threshold would remain at $20 million for blacklisting.) Such reporting would have an inhibitive effect on the entities, even were President Obama to waive its provi- sions. President Clinton, for instance, consistently waived the last major Iran sanctions legislation passed in the mid-1990s, but the fact that the legislation was available to him inhibited companies from dealing with Iran. Top administration officials have made clear in recent days that they are apprehensive of scaring away potential part- ners in multilateral sanctions with the threat of punitive sanctions. "We want to create coali- tions," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a Dec. 10 interview with Al Jazeera when she was asked if the United States was nearing the point when it would im- pose sanctions unilaterally to persuade Iran to make its nu- clear program more transpar- ent. "We want to find common ground with people. There are many things we could go off and do unilaterally, as the prior administration certainly demonstrated. That's not our chosen path. We would prefer to take some more time, to be more patient, to bring people together to make the case." Clinton rebuffed claims that the United States and Europe had failed to persuade other major powers to make a common cause on the Iran issue, referring to the recent resolution by the Interna- tional Atomic EnergyAgency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, condemning Iran for failing to cooperate with its inspectors. "The vote thatwas accumu- lated condemning Iran, calling for Iran to act, was shocking to some people because it was so unified," she said. "It wasn't just the United States. It was Russia, it was China and many other countries. That's because we have spent time listening and working hard to create this common ground and these common interests, and we've done it out of a sense of mutual respect." Clinton's spokesman, Ian Kelly, directly addressed the proposed bills. "We want to make sure that whatever kind of package is being considered, that it's the right kind of package," Kelly said in a briefing Dec. 11. "Any kind of pressure is go- ing to be more effective if it's implemented broadly and not simply bilaterally." Representatives of the ma- jor powers--the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Ger- many and China--will meet before year's end to consider the next steps with Iran in the wake of its rejection of an offer to enrich its uranium to medical research levels i exchange for greater nuclear transparency. On Dec. 11, the White House endorsed a statement issued by the Council of Euro- pean Union, the EU's foreign policy arm, that warned of a "clear response" to Iranian recalcitrance, an allusion to enhanced sanctions. "Iran's persistent failure to meet its international ob- ligations and Iran's apparent lack of interest in pursuing negotiations require a clear response, including through appropriate measures," the EU statement said.