President Obama's "hat-in-hand" approach to Iran's new president, Hasan Rouhani, over Iran's nuclear-weapons program is not only degrading for America, but also for the office of the President of the United States. This comes on the heels of Mr. Obama being outmaneuvered by Russian President Vladimir Putin over Syria's chemical weapons, which clearly has weakened Mr. Obama's international image. However, our narcissistic president apparently is incapable of accepting that fact, as he was then rebuffed in a lunch that Mr. Rouhani refused to attend.
All the hype over Mr. Rouhani accepting a phone call in his limo en route to the airport from our president, which most likely was monitored by both Russia and China, is not the way the leader of a superpower should be conducting foreign policy. This is not a zero-sum game. This involves our national security, as well as that of our allies.
Iran has been relentless in pursuing its nuclear-weapons program in spite of crippling economic sanctions. On its current course, Iran is estimated to achieve a nuclear-weapons capability by mid-2014. If Iran were pursuing a peaceful nuclear-energy program, why then would they spend billions of dollars to develop underground nuclear facilities with advanced centrifuges and heavy-water reactors? Why would Iran double its stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium and develop intercontinental ballistic missiles? Clearly, Iran has not gone to this tremendous expense to produce a few nuclear weapons that will sit on a shelf. We should remember the Persians started playing chess some 2,500 years ago. They understand that to be a nuclear power, particularly one that pursues aggressive regional and global objectives, they have to have a nuclear-weapons force. Although relatively small, that force must be capable of surviving a major conventional and/or nuclear first strike and then still be capable of retaliating.
In addition to reviving this program, we should announce further economic sanctions to put pressure on Iran's foreign-exchange reserves and its balance of payments. As outlined in a report by Mark Dubowitz and Rachel Ziemda of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Press and Roubini Global Economics, these should include:
• Dramatically reducing permissible imports of Iranian crude-oil products.
• Blacklisting additional sectors of the Iranian economy owned or controlled by the government and/or the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC), including mining, engineering and construction centers.
• Vigorously enforcing gold sanctions to deny Iran access to gold to replenish its foreign-exchange reserves.
• Requiring a specified percentage of Iran's escrow funds he spent only on humanitarian goods.
• Imposing tighter sanction on Iranian commercial exports that aren't oil-related.
• Expanding the definition of crude-oil sanctions to include all oil products.
• Imposing additional sanctions against the holdings of Iran's investment funds, and entities owned and/or controlled by the IRGC, the Quds Force, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other entities.