President Barack Obama convinced a bipartisan group of Senators on Tuesday to delay enacting new sanctions until after the Thanksgiving recess. The Obama administration had sought the delay, it claimed, in order to show good faith to the Iranian regime ahead of a possible deal on Iran’s nuclear program later this week. Many Senators from both parties remained skeptical about the terms the administration is willing to accept.
The White House ignored advice that its hand would be strengthened in talks with Iran if Congress had passed new sanctions that the president could enact at the stroke of a pen. Instead, fearing that Iran might walk away from a deal that the Iranians clearly sought after sanctions had begun to bite, the administration wanted to entice the regime to remain engaged. Critics note that the deal allows Iran to continue enriching uranium.
Another effort at agreement fell apart in Geneva two weeks ago, when the French members of the P5+1 group (U.S., France, Britain, Germany, China, and Russia) declared that the deal was far too lenient and left Iran with an easy “breakout capacity,” in which it could become a nuclear power at will. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also described the proposal as a “very, very bad deal” and lobbied hard against it.