Unlike on Obamacare, president is surefooted on Iran policy

Unlike on Obamacare, president is surefooted on Iran policy
President Obama speaks in the White House briefing room. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)



may have been less than surefooted in his comments about healthcare at his news conference Thursday. But when the topic turned to negotiations about Iran’s

nuclear program

, he deftly dealt with agitation in


to increase sanctions.

Even if Congress legislated new sanctions, Obama wouldn't go along with them. But even the suggestion that sanctions should be ratcheted up undermines current negotiations over a two-stage agreement that would keep Iran from "advancing" its nuclear program while discussions continued on a final agreement. Talks on such an agreement continue despite the anticlimactic outcome of recent negotiations in Geneva.


Here's part of what Obama said:

"Let's test how willing they are to actually resolve this diplomatically and peacefully. We will have lost nothing if at the end of the day it turns out that they are not prepared to provide the international community the hard proof and assurances necessary for us to know that they're not pursuing a nuclear weapon. And if [that] turns out to be the case, then not only is our entire sanctions infrastructure still in place, not only are they still losing money from the fact that they can't sell their oil and get revenue from their oil as easily, even throughout these talks, but other options remain.

"But ... what I've said to members of Congress is that if in fact we're serious about trying to resolve this diplomatically — because no matter how good our military is, military options are always messy, are always difficult, always have unintended consequences, and in this situation are never complete in terms of making us certain that they don't then go out and pursue even more vigorously nuclear weapons in the future — if we're serious about pursuing diplomacy, then there is no need for us to add new sanctions on top of the sanctions that are already very effective and that brought them [to the] table in the first place. Now, if it turns out they can't deliver, they can't come to the table in a serious way and get this issue resolved, the sanctions can be ramped back up."

Succinct and persuasive — unlike his comments on Obamacare.