The beat goes on:
Despite the Obama administration’s vows to cripple Iran with economic sanctions, it is leaders in Congress and Europe who have seized the lead in the West’s long-running campaign to punish Tehran for its suspected nuclear weapons program.
In recent months, the toughest moves to deter Iran from pursuing its presumed nuclear ambitions have come from a bipartisan group in Congress and European allies, especially Britain and France. The White House at first resisted these steps before embracing them as inevitable.
The administration has imposed dozens of sanctions on Iran since 2009, but it has carefully calibrated their effect. Officials fear that too powerful a blow to the world’s third-largest oil exporter could cause an oil price increase, damaging the global economic recovery, undermining international support for the sanctions campaign and creating political trouble in an election year.
For example, top administration officials late last year were strongly resistant when Congress slapped Iran’s central bank with harsh sanctions. The European Union then went further, however, imposing an embargo to halt purchases of Iranian oil by European nations over the ensuing five months.
If and when the balloon goes up – Iranian warships are now prowling in the Med – we will not have the luxury of leading from behind.