Who would want to be Benjamin Netanyahu? As the prime minister of Israel he has a dreadful calculus to make: Is Barack Obama sufficiently serious about preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons?
The latest development would seem to be reassuring. According to the Financial Times:
The Obama administration said that seven more economies would be exempt from its Iran-related sanctions that come into force at the end of the month, but left open the prospect that China could still face sanctions.
The state department announced Monday that Turkey, India, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, South Africa and Sri Lanka had all reduced purchases of Iranian oil by a large enough amount to be given a six-month exemption from the sanctions, which come into operation on June 28.
In an earlier announcement, Japan and 10 European countries had already been awarded an exemption.
A balancing act is evidently in progress here, with the U.S. encouraging various powers (India and South Korea are Iran’s second- and fourth-largest oil buyers, according to Reuters) to reduce their oil purchases from the mullahs a significant amount, but not too much. Too much could have a negative impact on the precarious global economy and possibly even Obama’s reelection chances.
But the chosen six-month exemption time frame gives these discussions a window wide enough to get past our elections, a fact undoubtedly not lost on Netanyahu and the Iranians.
Equally undoubtedly, both parties made note of President Obama’s overheard remarks to Russian Prime Minister Medvedev, urging him to be patient and implying that after the election things would be different. He, Obama, would have more freedom of action.
So delay, delay, delay. This is good news for the Iranians. Patience is the name of the game for them. They love to wait things out. Indeed, they are masters of it, talking, not talking, walking and talking, talking and not walking, walking and not talking, all the while taking the opportunity to advance their nuclear ambitions.