Obama Scores Sunday Touchdown with Iran Central Bank Sanctions

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(NJDC) Yesterday, President Barack Obama signed an executive order that effectively cut off Iran’s central bank from the global economy-an executive order made public one hour ago. In a letter to Congress, Obama explained that the sanctions are necessary “particularly in light of the deceptive practices of the Central Bank of Iran and other Iranian banks.” According to the AP, Obama “said the problems included the hiding transactions of sanctioned parties, the deficiencies of Iran’s anti-money laundering regime and the unacceptably high risk posed to the entire international financial system posed by Iran’s activities.” NJDC President and CEO David A. Harris said:

Sunday’s actions by President Barack Obama that were made public today, combined with the Administration’s record of gathering global partners to help block a nuclear Iran, should end any doubt about the President’s singular commitment to ensuring Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon. Obama’s record is crystal clear; he has done more than any president in history to isolate Iran and encourage Iran’s leaders to change course. By dramatically severing Iran’s economy completely from the United States, the President has taken another powerful step to safeguard America’s and Israel’s security alike-even as previous steps are yielding results. We thank President Obama for his leadership on this issue and for his actions yesterday; indeed all supporters of a secure Israel and a strong U.S.-Israel relationship owe him a debt of gratitude.

(The Department of the Treasury issued a fact sheet about the new sanctions.)

Prior to the Super Bowl, Obama discussed U.S. cooperation with Israel on thwarting Iran’s nuclear program in a pre-Super Bowl interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer. Obama told Lauer:

[Israel] like us believe[s] that Iran has to stand down on its nuclear weapons program. And we have mobilized the international community in a way that is unprecedented. And they are feeling the pinch. They are feeling the pressure. But they have not taken the step that they need to diplomatically which is to say we will pursue nuclear power, we will not pursue a nuclear weapon. Until they do, I think Israel rightly is going to be very concerned. And we will as well….

We have closer military intelligence consultation than we ever have. My number one priority continues to be the security of the United States but also the security of Israel and we are gonna make sure that we work in lockstep as we work to try to solve this, hopefully diplomatically.

… Our goal is to resolve this issue diplomatically… We’re not going to take any options off the table though. … Our preferred solution here is diplomatic; we’re going to keep pushing on that front, but we’re not going to take any options off the table. And I’ve been very clear that we’re going to do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and creating an arms race-a nuclear arms race-in a volatile region.

(See video to watch the full interview from yesterday.)

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Obama said during a segment that aired this morning on NBC’s Today Show:

I think we have a very good estimate of when they could potentially achieve breakout capacity … Do we know all of the dynamics inside of Iran? Absolutely not. … Iran itself is a lot more divided now than it was. Knowing who is making decisions at any given time inside of Iran is tough. We do have a pretty good read on what is happening with the nuclear program.

Obama also reiterated that all options remain on the table for stopping Iran:

We have done extensive planning over the last several years over our various options in the Gulf. We are prepared to exercise these options should the need arise. But my goal is to resolve this diplomatically mainly because the only way over the long term we can ensure doesn’t get a nuclear weapon is by getting them to understand it’s not in their interest.

Click here or on the video box below to watch the full interview from this morning.