Obama eases up on Iran sanctions, aided by Israeli restraint

The Obama administration has come up with more reasons for avoiding tough action against Iran's nuclear program, whether sanctions with teeth or an Israeli military strike:  Half a dozen unnamed administration strategists told the New York Times Saturday, Jan. 2 about a fresh review of Iran's nuclear progress based on estimates of a "longer time frame" of 18 months to two or three years to… breakout."

debkafile's Iranian and military sources sharply confute the new policy's  five basic assumptions:
1. Domestic unrest and political infighting have made Iran's leaders "particularly vulnerable to strong and immediate new sanctions" which appear to have caused their drive to produce nuclear fuel to "falter."

So say Obama's strategists.
debkafile: The most up-to-date intelligence finds Iran's top officials more determined than ever to reach their nuclear weapons goal with all possible speed.
2.  The White House wants to focus new sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps which is believed to be in charge of the nuclear weapons effort and the repressive measures against the protest movement.

debkafile: This tactic would sweeten sanctions by letting the Islamic regime and its top echelon off the hook. In any case, IRGC chiefs easily sidestepped past sanctions imposed on Iran by eschewing banks and regular financial institutions and conducting their business through illicit channels, such as smuggling and money laundering with the help of fellow rogue nations.
3.  Iran's bomb-development effort was seriously derailed by the exposure three months ago of the country's secret enrichment plant under construction near the holy city of Qom. This deprived Iran of its best chance of covertly producing the highly enriched uranium needed to make fuel for nuclear weapons.

The same administration sources admit there may be more undiscovered secret sites in Iran.
The number of centrifuges enriching uranium at Natanz has dropped by 20 percent since summer due to technical problems… and covert efforts by the West to undermine Iran's program by sabotaging imported equipment and infrastructure.
These factors have led administration's policymakers to lengthen their estimate of how long it would take Iran to accomplish "cover breakout" – the ability to secretly produce a workable weapon… to at least 18 months, maybe two or three years.

debkafile: These assumptions contradict the estimates offered just three months ago by Glyn Davies, the United States' Permanent Representative at the IAEA. On Sept 9, he said: "Iran is now either very near or in possession already of sufficient low enriched uranium to produce one nuclear weapon, if the decision were made to further enrich it to weapons-grade.  This ongoing enrichment activity, prohibited by three Chapter VII United Nations Security Council resolutions, moves Iran closer to a dangerous and destabilizing possible breakout capacity."
To gloss over the contradiction, the Obama officials reported new intelligence input for revising their estimates.
4.  Washington's revised policy review for Iran banks heavily on Israel's reported willingness to hold off military action and accept the new sanctions strategy.

debkafile reported on Dec. 19: Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave the US president another six months for diplomacy without the threat of military action when they met at the White House November 9. From Israel, Obama won until this summer for another round of negotiations and tagged on another six months himself.

This deal gave Iran a year to play with before sanctions or military action are broached.

To read this article, click HERE.

Obama's revised policy extends this period of grace to "two or three years" before Iran comes under the threat of mild penalties.

5. Based on the evidence of Iranian defectors, the Obama administration now believes that Iran's military nuclear program has slowed down considerably. This assumption is supported by Israeli, British, French and German intelligence.

debkafile: Washington's new estimates tell our Iranian sources that the Obama adminstration has given up on its effort to bring Tehran's nuclear weapons program to a halt and lowered its sights to achieving diplomatic engagement with Iranian leaders.
Obama is supported in this policy by Israel's prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak.

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