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ICYMI: Rubio: Pressure Iran with Tighter Sanctions

Nov 4, 2013 | Press Releases

Rubio: “Tough sanctions are exactly what has brought Iran to the table now, and tightening sanctions as we engage diplomatically affords us the opportunity to apply further pressure and force Iran’s leaders to choose between regime survival and a nuclear weapon.”  

Rubio: Pressure Iran with tighter sanctions
By Senator Marco Rubio
November 4, 2013  

The reviews are in, and they’re surprisingly positive: Iran showed newfound seriousness during a round of negotiations in Switzerland. President Barack Obama described the meetings as “a constructive beginning.” All involved spoke approvingly of how the tone was different, how the participants finally moved beyond pro forma speeches and how they were able to have a conversation about their differences.  

Was this the recently concluded talks with Iran in Geneva? No, it was actually four years ago. That experience should help guide us as we once again tackle the issue of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  

As for the latest round of talks, the Obama administration has been quick to hail them as breaking new ground. “We had detailed technical discussions at a level we have not had before,” a senior administration official told the press on Oct. 16 as the two-day meeting in Geneva came to an end.  

What the positive atmospherics gloss over, however, is that the tortuous decadelong history of U.S. and European diplomatic engagement with the country is littered with Iranian feints and the promise of concessions that never occur. The fall 2009 meeting in Geneva is instructive. At those talks, Iran actually agreed in principle to take steps to transfer most of its stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country.  

This time, despite the charm offensive from President Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s foreign minister appears to have shown up empty-handed.  

In 2009, after the agreement in Geneva, just as now, the Obama administration urged that new sanctions be put on hold to allow time for diplomacy. But Iran’s supposed concessions never materialized, and by the time the Iranian negotiators made it back to Tehran, the deal was doomed.

In October 2009, Iran had around 8,600 centrifuges and just under 1,200 kilograms of uranium enriched to 3.5 percent. In the past four years, Iran has more than doubled its number of centrifuges and now has a stockpile of uranium that is the equivalent of several weapons worth if it is enriched to higher levels, according to the Institute for Science and International Security. The last time we were told to be cautiously optimistic, Iran barely had one weapon’s worth of enriched uranium.

As a presidential candidate, Rouhani, who was not involved in the 2009 talks, boasted of his skill at buying time for the nuclear program to progress, even citing the number of centrifuges Iran was able to install while his negotiations with the Europeans went nowhere.  

This strategy has been successful thus far for Tehran. Our indulgence of it has been disastrous.  


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