Why the U.S. should not legislate new sanctions, now, for hostages’ sake

While Presidents Obama and Rouhani ‘pivot to Venus,’ dueling politicians in U.S. and Iran sharpen their rhetoric – line up support for tough new legislation in 2014. 


nuke explosionIn Iran today: Their question is do they enrich more, higher and faster? Or limit their enrichment to sub-weapons grade levels whilst keeping an eye on untrustworthy America?  Meanwhile, a top adviser to the Grand Ayatollah said recently that Rouhani’s efforts to encourage more dialog and agreements with U.S. and world powers are good for Iran.

In the United States: Our dilemma is do we toughen sanctions in order to halt Iran’s nuclear bomb program? Or continue the status quo, while watching untrustworthy Iran? The Obama Administration has shown no sign of making any confrontational or aggressive demands, anywhere; he gives the appearance of encouraging ‘strength through weakness.’  This has been his pattern since inauguration in 2009 when nuclear weapons in northern Europe were turned away from Russian interests and in exchange the U.S. got … you know it … nothing. That was part of Hillary Clinton’s magical ‘reset button.’

Don’t let the familiar “I killed Osama bin Laden” rhetoric fool you. Osama belonged to no country that openly wanted him. That was a gimme for Obama who risked no reprisals from Russia, China, Europe or anyone else that mattered.


Back in Iran, some in Parliament want to increase uranium enrichment to 60%.  Forget the 20% limitation and steady reduction to 5% that was just agreed to! There is also a report of a more efficient next generation of centrifuges that were conveniently left out of the recent talks leading up to the ‘historic agreement.’  Obviously support for nuclear weapons still runs high in Iran.

Ten reasons new sanctions should not be imposed now for the sake of three U.S. hostages in Iran:

I have to qualify that Iran could do or say something by Tuesday that would require me to change my mind, but looking at this strictly through the lens of the plight of three innocent Americans held in Iran, I have an argument with the notion that tougher sanctions on Iran at this particular time would be helpful.  Perhaps not even useful in the larger sense; i.e. the nuclear talks themselves.

Reason 1. President Obama already has authority for sanctions waivers. And he began to use them well before the November 24 Agreement was signed as a ‘trust building’ step. He could waive any newer sanctions also. So one has to ask why pass more sanctions and risk further damage to Iranian-U.S. relations?

Reason 2. Secret talks between U.S. and Iranian officials have been ongoing for 2-3 years which we only learned about after the  November 24 deal was signed.  What the American public does not know about discussions with Iran is far greater than what it knows.  Anything remotely positive or productive could be lost.

Reason 3. It was also revealed after the November deal that four Iranian men who were tried and convicted criminals were quietly released by the U.S. over the past 18 months.  Somehow this became linked to the earlier release of three hikers that strayed into Iran, allegedly, and were convicted as spies. Their release ‘on humanitarian grounds’ was also accompanied by secretive ‘bail payments’ of about $1.5 million through an intermediary in Oman. At first it was only the three lower level Iranians to be released. Before leaving this point, I want to emphasize this proves that the U.S.is not only willing, but has already NEGOTIATED WITH TERRORISTS (Iran in this case).

Iranian scientist Mojtaba Atarodi apr 27 arv TehranReason 4. The fourth Iranian that was released was a high level nuclear program scientist named Mojtaba Atarodi. He was released at night in late April 2013, put on an airplane and received a heroes welcome the next day in Tehran! He had fat cheeks and a little pot belly, no head wounds, so he must have been treated fairly well. (Not the case with three American hostages, but I digress.) This 4th release supposedly was to entice Iran to face-to-face talks. I ask: If you needed a loan to buy a house, would your bank mail you $5,000.00 to come in and do the paperwork?  And when you do come in and sign for the loan, with no intention of making good on your promise, should the bankers be high-five’ing and back-slapping over the great deal they just accomplished? The November 24 Agreement gave the U.S. and its ‘partners,’ who included Russia and China, absolutely NOTHING, except a vague promise to ‘stop increasing’ enrichment- not abandoning it. What did Iran get: they kept their nuclear enrichment and bomb building programs intact, and received about $9 billion. New reports recently surfaced that the U.S. miscalculated the value of sanctions relief which will be closer to $20 billion. So much for the U.S. State Department being ‘clear-eyed’ as they like to say.

Reason 5. The three U.S. hostages, Abedini, Hekmati and Levinson, were not deemed important enough for the U.S. to discuss their release and bring this to a resolution as a PRE-CONDITION before the November 2013 talks (Phase 1). And Kerry has since remarked they will not be part of the negotiations in the final agreement (Phase 2). What makes anyone believe that Iran could be incentivized to release the three hostages after the so-called ‘Final Agreement?’ Preposterous! 

AMERICA:  We need to communicate with President Obama, through Congress, through his closest aides, and directly whenever possible. He needs to know that his representative on foreign affairs, Secretary of State John Kerry, has a posture and approach that will leave 3 U.S. Citizens who are wrongly held in Iran today to languish and possibly die if they are left there another year. This is totally UNACCEPTABLE and furthermore  is UNNECESSARY and was EASILY PREVENTABLE! But now this will only happen if we speak up for the 3 hostages at every opportunity. The President alone has the power to determine the outcome of negotiations, not John Kerry. Kerry only does what Obama desires/permits. We have six months to get our President’s attention before the Final Agreement on Iran Nuclear issues is signed. 

Screenshot 2013-12-13 12.03.51Reason 6. The November talks had two sessions lasting a few days each. The first was abruptly halted when the French representative said “This is a sucker’s deal!”  Then everyone flew home and tried to downplay their differences. What changed in the Agreement during the two weeks to make it a good deal?  I believe very little changed. Remember, Iran was ready to sign it the first time. But over the two weeks world powers and other countries started to calculate the value of new contracts and oil that they could gain from Iran. This included United States companies

(Freeallthree.com is working on an upcoming article regarding a ‘Joint U.S. and Iranian Chamber of Commerce’ cooperative. It would include mutual offices in both countries set up by January, 2014. There are also proposed non-stop flights between NYC and, if you can believe it, the ‘resort island’ of Kish (see picture right)!  This is precisely where Bob Levinson, one of the three Americans held hostage in Iran, was last seen before he disappeared almost 7 years ago! Since there is no Visa required, there is no official record of one’s arrival or departure.)

Reason 7. The Iranians walked out of the first session of technical talks in early December and flew home. Why?  Because the U.S. continued to enforce some sanctions and that made them angry. How did that relate to technical issues? Bad faith they said. We should expect all sorts of feigned outrage, stalling tactics, misinformation, and propaganda. Don’t forget, President Rouhani was the former head of Iran’s nuclear negotiations team in the early 2000s. One gets the sense he knows all the tricks and we are just learning.

Reason 8. So why advocate for no new tougher sanctions now?  Here I have to admit to agreeing with the Obama/Kerry position.  But I am sure it is for different reasons. We have sanctions now and the President can turn the screws up or down whenever if he wants to. So why pass more sanctions that could give Iran an excuse to walk out, procrastinate, insist that America must change its law first, or whatever, causing the talks to break down completely. The U.S. hasn’t talked face-to-face with Iran since 1979 – 34 years ago! They are already aware we have a huge Military. And they have determined that this Commander-in-Chief will not use it….unless there is a direct egregious act perpetrated on the U.S. or its vital interests. That’s exactly why Iran is clever enough to use proxies for its dirty work: in Iraq (against Sunni’s and the U.S.), Afghanistan (against U.S.), Syria, Lebanon, Israel and even a failed bomb plot on a Saudi Prince on U.S. soil! All this with oil money in the past and now with sanctions relief that they were given. Mr. Obama will not attack Iran over stalled negotiations or Iran spinning a few more thousand centrifuges. But Iran does want something.  They need something!  What is it? Money, gold and unfettered international trade. Many people believe that’s what they are on the way to achieving…and they still have their nuclear weapons program.

Reason 9. Sanctions already brought Iran to the table the first time. Kerry actually said before the deal that “that was the purpose of the sanctions: to get them to the table.” Immediately commentators said, “What?” The purpose of the sanctions was to get them softened up and willing to change their bad habits. Then negotiations for improved relations would be possible. But for the U.S. to come into the talks asking for nothing in return from the Iranians was a big mistake. It is unfortunate that the U.S. side has either such poor negotiators or sets its sights so low that we cannot even see a meaningful target. The nuclear talks could fail for a myriad of unknown reasons. But only one of those reasons would be Congress voting more sanctions. Imposing new sanctions now would not only provide Iran an excuse for failed talks, but Obama/Kerry would blame the U .S. Congress as well (and Iran probably not at all).

Reason 10. What does the U.S. want? Obviously we and Israel, primarily, do not want Iran to achieve the ability to make and deliver nuclear weapons. Is that it? The United Nations already has international sanctions and agreements in place that prohibit Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. But does that stop them? The U.S. must insist on getting more from a known criminal than a promise to stop committing crimes!

hekmati set me freeThe United States is in a position right now to demand as a pre-condition the release of all three American hostages. This must be done BEFORE any additional sanctions relief is enjoyed by Iran via the infusion of $billions more U.S. dollars and gold as well as unrestricted oil trade. If not now, when? 

President Obama, Mr. Kerry, and President Rouhani: What would happen to your current six-month deal and your hope of making new agreements, IF during this time period any one of the three Americans still languishing in Iran should perish?  Have you considered that?  Wouldn’t it be GOOD OPTICS FOR BOTH SIDES to release these three men … now?  Iran would look honorable and better in many Americans’ eyes. And U.S. citizens, including this writer, would likely speak more kindly of President Obama.  I believe many would join me in this sentiment.

Finally to Mr. Obama, killing bin Laden did relatively little for the American public’s sense of esteem or any lasting pride. It seemed like ‘too little-too late.’ In fact conspiracy theories rose up immediately due to the way Osama’s disposition was handled. But bringing the three Iranian hostages home and then perhaps – after they are healed – holding a ticker tape parade in NYC, well that would be downright American! Something I dream about. Could you make that happen?  

AMERICA: insist on the release of all three Iranian hostages! Our best opportunity to bring them back is now … the first six months of 2014!

Robert Levinson, 6 years and 10 months; Amir Hekmati, 2 years and 4 months; and Pastor Saeed Abedini, 1 year and 5 months. It’s Time!

Bring them back before July 4, 2014!

 No more U.S. $billions of dollars or gold bullion until all three are free!