WASHINGTON - As tensions rise over the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran, US Senators Lindsey Graham (R) and Joe Lieberman (I) are spearheading a resolution calling on Congress to block any foreign policy that might accept a nuclear Islamic Republic, Washington's congressional paper, The Hill, reported.
According to the report, however, some Democratic senators are reluctant to back the measure that aims to press President Barack Obama to take more aggressive action against Iran.
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The legislative measure has gotten support from Senator John McCain (R) as well as several Democrats – while others have opted not to interfere with the commander in chief during an election year.
The unwilling senators have expressed concerned that the resolution is essentially a step towards an authorization of a military strike – an option that is highly unpopular with liberal voters.
Graham, Lieberman and McCain with DM Ehud Barak (Photo: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry)
But sources close to the as yet unpublicized bill told the newspaper that the legislation leaves channels for a diplomatic solution, and does not serve as an authorization for military action.
Obama ready to accept nuclear Iran?
The dispute is an indication of Obama's own difficulties in deciding how to deal with Iran during an election year, should the diplomatic efforts fail to put an end to Tehran's ambition to obtain atom weapons.
According to the report, some lawmakers and policy experts posit that Obama is prepared to accept a nuclear-armed Iran.
“Many in Congress suspect correctly that Barack Obama has every intention of tolerating Iran with a nuclear weapon despite his protestations to the contrary,” Danielle Pletka, vice president of foreign and defense policy at the American Enterprise Institute, was quoted as saying. “The administration seems more concerned about an Israeli strike on Iran than Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.”
On Wednesday, the Washington Post has urged the Obama Administration to spell out which Iranian actions will cross its red lines, and what the retribution would be.
Obama campaigning in Wisconsin (Photo: MCT)
"(…) Can the Netanyahu government count on the Obama administration to act if a moment of truth arrives?" the editorial pondered.
"For now, several top Israeli officials are skeptical. That is where Mr. Panetta and Mr. Obama should be making an effort. Rather than publicly arguing with Israel, they should be more clearly spelling out US willingness to take military action if Iran is discovered taking steps toward bomb-making."
'Give diplomacy a chance'
Obama's diplomatic aspirations have received reinforcement from his former aide on the Mideast, Dennis Ross, who said in a New York Times op-ed on Tuesday that regardless of Tehran's recent boastful statements, it might be looking for a way out of the "crippling pressure" that global sanctions have put on the country's economy.
Ross said that Iran is more isolated than ever, and that "The Obama administration has now created a situation in which diplomacy has a chance to succeed."
Addressing a possible Israeli strike on the Islamic Republic, Ross claimed that the Jewish state is disinclined to wait and see how the diplomatic option plays out because it might lose the military option.
"That said, Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have consistently called for 'crippling sanctions,' reflecting a belief that Iran’s behavior could be changed with sufficient pressure," he writes.
"The fact that crippling sanctions have finally been applied means that Israel is more likely to give these sanctions and the related diplomatic offensive a chance to work. And it should."
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