Zarate blasts Obama’s Iran sanctions pauseOctober 7, 2011
During an Aspen Institute panel discussion on terrorist financing in July, former counter-terrorism official Juan Zarate rebuked the 2009 to 2010 “pause” in economic sanctions pressure while Obama administration sought engagement with Iran.
Reporter Erin Burnette asked Zarate and former under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence Stuart Levey about the wisdom of easing up on the sanctions regime while trying to engage Iran. Stuart Levey said that top Obama advisors underestimated how long it would take from the time they began seeking engagement until the time a new round of international sanctions would be approved, which was not until July, 2010.
That delay gave Iran a year and a half of essential time to develop their nuclear program without significant financial pressure. In this video, Juan Zarate calls that pause in the financial pressure “a major strategic mistake.” The momentum from sanctions beginning in 2005 had been working, and Washington could have kept applying financial pressure simultaneously while pushing for diplomatic engagement.
The timing of the pause was most unfortunate, Zarate argues, because the U.S. already knew about Iran’s “secret” nuclear site at Kom.
In addition to pointing out the Obama administration’s strategic blunder on Iran sanctions, Zarate also lets it slip in the final seconds of the video that Pres. Obama kept the well-respected Stuart Levey “leashed.”