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Embassy Row: Fireworks over Iran
Question of the Day
The head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is demanding that President Obama vigorously enforce sanctions on Iran, as the Israeli prime minister is seething privately over the failure of White House diplomacy to stop Iran's nuclear program.
"It is the duty of the administration to stop wavering, stop wasting time with meaningless dialogue and fully implement and enforce sanctions against this dangerous pariah. No excuses," said Rep. Eleana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican.
She said the release of a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency confirms suspicions that Iran is pursuing atomic weapons, not nuclear power, as it claims.
"We cannot let the moment pass by doubting the evidence that is right in front of our eyes," she said.
Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen also complained that the administration has failed to confront China about reports that Chinese banks laundered money for Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.
"Sanctions will do nothing to stop Iran's nuclear program if they are not strictly enforced," she said Friday.
As Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen criticized Mr. Obama in Washington, the Israel media were reporting on an explosive confrontation between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro in Jerusalem.
Mr. Netanyahu criticized Mr. Obama for preventing Israel from launching airstrikes against Iran's nuclear plants, according to a report in the Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot.
"Instead of pressuring Iran in an effective way, Obama and his people are pressuring us not to attack the nuclear facilities," a person in the meeting quoted the prime minister as saying.
When Mr. Shapiro repeated White House policy that more time is needed for diplomacy, Mr. Netanyahu responded, "The time has run out."
The headline over the story read: "The Confrontation."
"Lightning and sparks flew," veteran reporter Shimon Schiffer wrote, quoting sources with knowledge of Friday's closed-door meeting.
At one point, Mr. Shapiro accused Mr. Netanyahu of distorting U.S. policy toward Iran and referred to Mr. Obama's promise to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile in London, the United States on Friday signaled a further sign of division with Israel when Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tried to distance the Obama administration from the possibility of an Israeli unilateral strike against Iran.
"I don't want to be complicit if they chose to do it," he told reporters.
Gen. Dempsey added that the "international coalition could be undone if [Iran] was attacked prematurely."
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Lt. Gen. Hans-Werner Fritz, director of strategy and operations of the German Defense Ministry. He discusses strategic challenges to Germany's military in a lecture organized by the German Embassy.
Monica Herz, director of the Institute of International Relations at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, and Mustafa Kibaroglu, chairman of the International Relations Department of Okan University in Istanbul, Turkey. They participate in a forum on Iran's nuclear program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email email@example.com. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
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About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
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