After the Nuclear Deal
What the World Sees as Obama Eases Iran Sanctions

One day after Iran’s Supreme Leader declared that missiles, not negotiations, were the key to Iran’s future, word leaks that the U.S. may be relaxing yet another financial sanction as a sign of goodwill. The AP reports:

The Obama administration may soon tell foreign governments and banks they can start using the dollar in some instances to facilitate business with Iran, officials told The Associated Press, describing an arcane tweak to U.S. financial rules that could prove significant for Tehran’s sanctions-battered economy.

While no decision is final, U.S. officials familiar with internal discussions said the Treasury Department is considering issuing a general license that would permit offshore financial institutions to access dollars for foreign currency trades in support of legitimate business with Iran, a practice that is currently illegal.

Several restrictions would apply, but such a license would reverse a ban that has been in place for several years and one the administration had vowed to maintain while defending last year’s nuclear deal to skeptical U.S. lawmakers and the public.

[…] In a speech Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew lauded Iran for accepting the nuclear deal to achieve its goal of ending Western sanctions. “Since Iran has kept its end of the deal, it is our responsibility to uphold ours, in both letter and spirit,” he told the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Regardless of the underlying merits of this proposal, the White House seems blind to the political theater that is playing to packed houses all over the world—in Tokyo, Beijing, Pyongyang, Moscow, Riyadh, Jerusalem and elsewhere.

Here’s what the world sees: Iran declares it is going full steam ahead on missiles regardless of the irrelevant UN or the cowardly U.S. And in turn, President Obama answers: Here, Iran, are some new concessions. Please don’t walk away from the nuclear deal.

The White House would indignantly deny that this is what’s really going on, but appearances count. The worldwide impression is that the U.S. was and is much more eager for the nuclear deal than the ayatollahs, and is afraid they will walk away. That translates into an impression of weakness that is encouraging adversaries and unsettling allies everywhere one looks.

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