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By not lifting sanctions, West and Obama are helping Iran enrich uranium

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The Iranians offered as an initial gesture to give UN inspectors access to the Parchin military base, where the International Atomic Energy Agency believes Iran may have done nuclear-weapons related work in the 1990s. Iranian officials have also conveyed a willingness to compromise on the 20 percent enrichment issue, given the right incentives. 

Naturally, in return, Iran asked that at least some sanctions begin to be lifted. This is, of course, the natural give-and-take of negotiations.

Unfortunately, in exchange for these major Iranian concessions, the P5+1 states only dangled the paltry promise of access to some spare parts for civilian airplanes, help with nuclear safety, and supplying Iran with some fuel plates for its research reactor. If Western countries were serious about their alleged worry about Iran's nuclear program they would have been more willing to reciprocate properly, for example, by beginning to ease the draconian sanctions on Iran.

It makes one wonder if the West is really worried about Iran's nuclear program or if it just wants to prolong the pain in Iran in hopes of inducing a regime change there.

Why not cap Iran's enrichment and in return ease some of the sanctions? Certainly, election-year politics and hawkish congressional pressure ensures that the US administration (which leads the P5+1 in these talks) cannot consider easing sanctions no matter what Iran does with its nuclear program. President Obama would be cast as “weak” if any of the sanctions were lifted before the elections. Oddly, a successful diplomatic resolution of the Iran nuclear issue would be spun as a failure.

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