In the aftermath of the Iran nuclear agreement reached last week, President Barack Obama has had a lot to say about sanctions.
On the one hand, the president doesn't think they really work. Obama now concedes -- as does Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif -- that while Iran was facing crippling sanctions it continued to install thousands of centrifuges at its illicit facilities. In his weekly address on Saturday, Obama said there were three options for Iran's nuclear program: aerial bombardment, his deal, and sanctions. Not surprisingly, Obama warned that sanctions "always led to Iran making more progress in its nuclear program."
Here's the catch: Two days earlier, at the announcement of the framework agreement, Obama praised the efficacy of renewing sanctions in case Iran cheats. "If Iran violates the deal," he said. "Sanctions can be snapped back into place."
All of this presents a major problem for Obama and his team as they try to sell their deal to a skeptical Congress. If Obama doesn't think the sanctions that have cut off Iran's banks from the international finance system and blocked the Tehran government from legally selling its oil will halt the regime's nuclear program, why does he think snapping them back would deter Iran from cheating?'