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The Demise of the Dual-Track Approach on Iran?

November 13, 2013

The Obama Administration has consistently described its policy on Iran as a “dual-track” approach of both engagement and pressure, i.e, carrot and stick. It is being reported Secretary of State John Kerry will ask at a briefing of the Banking Committee today to abandon the pressure side of that equation, so that the United States can make capitulations to Iran in exchange for steps Iran already has a legal obligation to take. Here are some questions Senators can ask the Secretary to help determine whether this is a wise approach to Iran’s illicit nuclear program.

  • United Nations Security Council Resolution 1737 imposed upon Iran a legal obligation to suspend all its enrichment and reprocessing activities, along with its work on all heavy water projects. So why would the international community give any sanctions relief to Iran for something it already has a legal obligation to do? Why would we make concessions for something that is already required?
  • The Banking Committee is considering legislation to increase sanctions upon Iran. By your own account, an agreement was not reached for even an interim deal to address Iran’s illicit nuclear program. Iran is still enriching uranium today, and nothing has changed. Why shouldn’t the United States increase the pressure track, which is supposedly this Administration’s own policy when it comes to Iran? Moreover, if you disagree with us implementing your own policy, the President could always veto that legislation, right?
  • Can you commit that any agreement with Iran will not allow Iran to maintain an enrichment capability or plutonium reprocessing technology?
  • In 2009, your predecessor said Iran’s opportunity for diplomatic engagement on the issue “will not remain open indefinitely.” In October 2009, President Obama said, “we’re not interested in talking for the sake of talking ... the United States will not continue to negotiate indefinitely.” After Iran continued to accelerate its nuclear program during President Obama’s first term, you said in March of this year that Iran’s opportunity for a diplomatic solution cannot “remain open indefinitely,” and “talks will not go on for the sake of talks.” How much longer is the United States going to engage in talks for the sake of talks while Iran continues to accelerate its illicit nuclear program?