- The Washington Times - Friday, May 15, 2015

Leading Republicans are slamming President Obama for seemingly downplaying the “low-tech” threat posed by Iran and brushing off international fears that Tehran could use money from economic sanctions relief to fuel more chaos in the Middle East.

At a press conference Thursday at Camp David, the president suggested it’s unlikely new money given to Iran will further destabilize the already volatile region. The U.S. and its international partners are negotiating a deal to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for relief from some economic sanctions.

The president conceded that Gulf Arab leaders are concerned Iran will use the sanctions relief to broaden financial support for terrorism, but he said it’s more likely the nation would use new money to help its struggling domestic economy.

“We gave them our best analysis of the enormous needs that Iran has internally and the commitment that Iran has made to its people in terms of shoring up its economy and improving economic growth,” Mr. Obama said at the conclusion of a meeting with leaders of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain.

“And as I pointed out, most of the destabilizing activity that Iran engages in is low-tech, low-cost activity,” he continued. “And so part of my emphasis to them was that if we are focusing more effectively on the things we need to do — to shore up defenses, improve intelligence, improve the capacity for maritime monitoring of what’s taking place in the Gulf — if we are working in concert to address the terrorist activity and countering terrorist messages that are coming not just from state sponsors like Iran, but, more broadly, from organizations like [the Islamic State], then we’re going to be able to fortify ourselves and deal with many of these challenges much more effectively, and we can do so from a position of strength and confidence.

Republicans charge that the statement highlights how this White House is taking the Iran threat far too lightly.

Iran is very close to acquiring a nuclear bomb, it’s sponsoring terror around the world and fueling widespread violence in Yemen. If Iran has truly managed to pose such a great threat in a ‘low-tech, low-cost’ way, it’s terrifying to think what the regime could do with up to $150 billion in sanctions relief,” Cory Fritz, press secretary for House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said in a statement Thursday night.

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