Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, addressed thousands of pro-Israel activists at AIPAC’s annual policy conference Sunday morning. Much of the remarks focused on the threats posed by Iranian nuclear weapons capabilities. The ambassador warned, “Sanctions have not stopped the Iranian nuclear process. Diplomacy hasn’t worked … We’ve seen years of diplomacy result in zero progress.”
Of course, sanctions have severely impacted the Iranian economy. Iran’s daily oil exports have declined 60% since mid-2012, and the rial has lost 80% of its value since 2011. As the ambassador pointed out, if the goal of the sanctions is merely to damage the Iranian economy, the sanctions have succeeded; however, if the goal is to halt Iran’s steady progress towards obtaining nuclear weaponry capability, the sanctions have failed.
Even with strengthened sanctions, Iran continues to advance its nuclear weapons technology. Ambassador Oren warned, “There is a small window for diplomacy.” This sense of urgency seems to run counter to the statements made by President Obama's Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes. During the presidential campaign, Rhodes stated, “We believe that there is time and space to pursue a diplomatic strategy that allows this pressure to continue to sink in.” Exactly how much “time and space” the Obama administration is willing to allow for the pressure “to sink in” has not been specified.
Perhaps the administration should consider the ambassador’s poignant question, “What is the price of inaction?”
A nuclear-weapons capable Iran can threaten our allies with nuclear holocaust, more readily expand jihadi revolution, spark an arms race in the region, and limit our ability to implement our foreign policy objectives.