Obama Takes Several Gambles in Bid to Defuse Nuclear Standoff With Iran

President Obama discussed Iran on Tuesday during a White House press
briefing, saying, “The next step is sanctions.”

Each will be a
test of phase two of his engagement effort after a year in which little
in his dealings with Iran has gone the way that the White House

Mr. Obama’s first bet is that he can accomplish what
President George W. Bush tried, and failed, to do: to win global
agreement on a set of sanctions that are strong enough to convince
Iran’s divided leadership that its nuclear ambitions are not worth the
price. But for Mr. Obama, that effort is complicated by the fear that
sanctions could crush a resilient antigovernment movement that appears
on the verge of taking to the streets again.

His second gamble is
that he can win over the reluctant Chinese, by convincing them that
sanctions are a better alternative than the instability and oil cutoffs
that would very likely arise if Israel attacked Iran’s nuclear
facilities. Mr. Obama’s own aides concede that they have diminishing
hopes of winning that argument with China.

And finally, Mr. Obama
is relying on his ability to dissuade Israel from carrying out an
attack, as it did in 2007 when it destroyed a nuclear reactor under
construction in Syria. For now, the government of Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu, while worried that Mr. Obama may go soft on… >>>

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