A Fact Check On The Administration Policies Regarding Missile Defense And Iran

- July 31, 2012

Today The Obama Administration Touted New Sanctions Against Iran And The Missile Defense System In Europe

Obama Claimed He Was "Once Again Reaffirming Our Commitment To Hold The Iranian Government Accountable For Its Actions," By Signing New Sanctions Against The Iranian Regime Into Law. "Since taking office, we have presented the Iranian government with a clear choice: come in line with your international obligations and rejoin the community of nations, or face growing consequences. With these actions, we are once again reaffirming our commitment to hold the Iranian government accountable for its actions. The United States remains committed to a diplomatic solution, but the onus is on Iran to abide by its international obligations. If the Iranian government continues its defiance, there should be no doubt that the United States and our partners will continue to impose increasing consequences." (President Barack Obama, Statement By The President On The Announcement Of Additional Sanctions Related To Iran, Washington, DC, 7/31/12)

White House Spokesman Jay Carney Said Obama "Aggressively" Pushed The Missile Defense Program In Europe, Over Russian Opposition. WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN JAY CARNEY: "Well look, I think we've talked about, on the issue of missile defense, it is very clear that this president has pursued aggressively the development and implementation of a missile defense program in Europe that includes, notably, an installation in Poland. And that contrary to suggestions to the contrary -- contrary to suggestions from critics -- was the Russians continue to oppose and we continue to press forward with that missile defense program because it's the right thing to do. It's based on tested technology and it's the most effective missile defense program in terms of combating the threat from Iran. That would be one issue where some of the criticism was off the mark, to say the least." (White House Daily Briefing, 7/31/12)

But Obama Has Watered Down Sanctions In The Past, Leading Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu To Conclude They Have Not Slowed Iran's Nuclear Program "By One Iota"

In 2011, Obama Argued Against Sanctioning The Iranian Regime. "The U.S. Senate on Thursday voted to make it harder for Iran to gain access to the entire world financial system, aiming to choke off the country's ability to process oil revenue amid concern that Iran's ambitions to acquire a nuclear weapon are building. The 100-0 vote came in spite of warnings from the Obama administration that the sanctions would alienate allies and drive up oil prices. The administration so far has been trying to use diplomatic avenues to persuade allies to get away from Iranian oil, which provides half of the government's revenues . But Congress, frustrated that U.S. President Barack Obama has so far declined to apply sanctions to Iran's central bank, decided to press him to take steps in that direction." (Siobhan Hughes, "Senate Votes Unanimously To Sanction Iran Central Bank," The Wall Street Journal, 12/1/11)

  • After The Treasury Department Failed To Water Down SWIFT Legislation, Obama "Changed Course And Voiced Support For The Measure." "When the Senate Banking Committee began preparing legislation on SWIFT, a Treasury Department official met with aides to ask that it be watered down. After the committee adopted the original language, the administration then changed course and voiced support for the measure." (Paul Richter, "Obama Administration Takes Back Seat On Iran Sanctions," Los Angeles Times, 2/17/12)

The Obama Administration Has Now Granted Waivers To "All Twenty Of Iran's Major Trading Partners," Including China, For Their Efforts To Reduce Iranian Oil Imports Ahead Of The Sanctions. "Though economic sanctions still haven't slowed or stopped Iran's nuclear drive, the Obama Administration has decided to make them even weaker. The Iran sanctions regime is looking like the U.S. tax code-filled with loopholes. It's so weak, in fact, that all 20 of Iran's major trading partners are now exempt from them. We've arrived at a kind of voodoo version of sanctions. They look real, insofar as Congress forced them into a bill President Obama had to sign in December. The Administration has spoken incantations about their powers. But if you're a big oil importer in China, India or 18 other major economies, the sanctions are mostly smoke." (Editorial, "Obama's Iran Loopholes," The Wall Street Journal, 7/2/12)

Prime Minister Netanyahu: "We Have To Be Honest And Say That All The Sanctions And Diplomacy So Far Have Not Set Back The Iranian Program By One Iota." "Mr. Romney's warnings on Iran's nuclear capability came after a day of meetings with Israeli officials here in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called existing Iran sanctions ineffective. 'We have to be honest and say that all the sanctions and diplomacy so far have not set back the Iranian program by one iota,' Mr. Netanyahu said. 'That's why I believe that we need a strong and credible military threat coupled with the sanctions to have a chance to change that situation.'" (Sara Murray, "Romney Talks Tough," The Wall Street Journal, 7/30/12)

  • Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Also Acknowledged That "International Sanctions Have Yet To Compel Iran To Give Up Its Nuclear Ambitions." "U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta acknowledged Monday that increasingly stiff international sanctions have yet to compel Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. But he argued that more pressure eventually would lead Iran to 'do what's right.'"("Panetta: Sanctions Not Moving Iran Away From Nukes," The Associated Press, 7/30/12)

And Obama Previously Used The Missile Defense System As A Bargaining Chip With Russia, A Move That Damaged U.S. Credibility In Eastern Europe

In 2009, Obama Made A Deal With Russia To Scrap Missile Defense In Europe In Order To Secure Russia's Approval For Sanctions Against Iran. "The Administration's likelier motive for scrapping the interceptors is that it hopes to win Russia's vote at the U.N. Security Council for tougher sanctions on Iran. Maybe the Russians have secretly agreed to such a quid pro quo, though publicly they were quick to deny it following yesterday's decision. And as Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov has noted, Vladimir Putin's Kremlin benefits by keeping the Iranian crisis on a low boil, because the threat of a Middle East crisis drives energy prices up while putting U.S. interests at risk. Russia also likes spooning out dollops of diplomatic help at the U.N. in exchange for material Western concessions. This time, the concession was missile defense." (Editorial, "Obama's Missile Offense,"The Wall Street Journal, 9/18/09)

In Response, 22 Eastern European Leaders Penned An Open Letter To Obama That Called For More Attention To The Region and Expressed Worries Over The Relationship He Was Building With Russia. "The deep concern among America's Eastern European allies over improved relations between Russia and the United States spilled into the open on Thursday when 22 prominent figures, including Poland's Lech Walesa and the Czech Republic's Vaclav Havel, published an open letter to the Obama administration begging not to be forgotten." (Nicholas Kulish, "Eastern Europe Is Uneasy Over U.S. Ties With Russia," The New York Times, 7/17/09)

  • The Leaders Warned Obama That "Abandoning The Missile Defense Plan Or Giving Russia Too Big A Role In It Could 'Undermine The Credibility Of The United States Across The Whole Region.'" "In the letter, the leaders urged President Obama and his top policy makers to remember their interests as they negotiate with Russia and review plans for missile defense bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. Abandoning the missile defense plan or giving Russia too big a role in it could 'undermine the credibility of the United States across the whole region,' the letter said." (Nicholas Kulish, "Eastern Europe Is Uneasy Over U.S. Ties With Russia," The New York Times, 7/17/09)

As A Result Of Obama's Action, "In Eastern And Central Europe…The United States May No Longer Be A Reliable Guarantor Of Security." "In Eastern and Central Europe, there has been fear since the administration canceled long-planned missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic that the United States may no longer be a reliable guarantor of security." (Robert Kagan, Op-Ed, "Allies Everywhere Feeling Snubbed By President Obama," The Washington Post, 3/17/10)

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