This post was updated on July 28, 2012.
Mitt Romney is trying to convince the American people that President Obama has somehow failed to pursue the toughest possible policies to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. In a GOP debate, Romney said:
“This president ... could have gotten crippling sanctions against Iran. He did not.”
Once again, Romney’s attack doesn’t even come close to the truth. Here are just a few ways that President Obama placed unprecedented pressure on Iran over its nuclear program:
President Obama has put in place “the toughest sanctions ever imposed on the Iranian government, including new measures targeting, for the first time, Iran’s entire financial system.” He also signed more sanctions into law that would penalize any foreign financial institution that does business with the Central Bank of Iran.
President Obama helped secure Russia, China, and other nations’ support to pass the “most comprehensive” and toughest international sanctions the Iranian government has ever faced. Not only do they impose restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities and its ballistic missile program, but they impose sanctions on its conventional military for the first time. They target individuals, entities, and institutions “that have supported Iran’s nuclear program and prospered from illicit activities at the expense of the Iranian people.” Citing these sanctions, Russia also banned all exports of major weapons systems to Iran.
President Obama has helped secure cooperation from European countries that are now executing sanctions and an phased oil embarago against Iran—a “display of unity and shared purpose within the Atlantic Alliance” that, at one time, might’ve seemed “far-fetched.”
President Obama worked with Congress to pass the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act, “sending a message to the Tehran government that notions of becoming a nuclear power could be accompanied by a steep economic price.” In November of last year, the President took even more steps to put pressure on Iran to comply with international rules on its nuclear program. He signed an executive order expanding the already strict sanctions to target entities that help develop oil and petrochemicals. One month later, he signed another law enacting new sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank and its oil revenues—a policy Romney has himself defined as “crippling sanctions”. In January, the President targeted Iran’s third-largest bank for sanctions, an action that the Treasury Department says “strikes at one of Iran’s few remaining access points to the international financial system.”
In January, the President targeted Iran’s third-largest bank for sanctions, an action that the Treasury Department says “strikes at one of Iran’s few remaining access points to the international financial system.” In March, the Swift Network, a global communication network vital to the banking industry, also decided to expel as many as 30 Iranian financial institutions marking the first time that Swift has taken such a drastic step. The move is “crippling [Iran’s] ability to conduct international business and further isolating the country from the world economy.”
President Obama’s tough actions against Iran has left Iran’s economy “facing its bleakest prospects in nearly two decades.” Iran’s currency has lost about 50% of its value since June 2011, doubling the prices of many imports. In fact, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been forced to admit that these sanctions are causing serious trouble for Iran’s banking system. “Our banks cannot make international transactions anymore,” he said while defending his embattled administration.
Iran experts and both former Democratic and Republican officials agree, Romney is essentially calling for the same policies that President Obama is already implementing. As Foreign Policy’s Tom Ricks noted, the only difference between their plans “is that Obama knows more about Iran than Romney does.”