President Obama announced on Monday tougher sanctions against Tehran, the latest step in his efforts to pressure Iran into giving up its nuclear weapons ambitions. Obama, in a letter to lawmakers, continued a diplomatic strategy in which he has in the last 24 hours played both the "good cop" and the "bad cop."
The president ordered the new sanctions, which target Iran's Central Bank, because of what he dubbed "deceptive practices" by that institution and other Iranian financial entities. Specifically, Obama pointed to efforts to "conceal transactions of sanctioned parties, the deficiencies in Iran's anti-money laundering regime and the weaknesses in its implementation, and the continuing and unacceptable risk posed to the international financial system by Iran's activities." The order also blocks "the property and interests in property of Iranian financial institution," according to the White House.
The new sanctions came less than 24 hours after Obama spoke with NBC News. During that interview, Obama, as good cop, left the door open to Iran continuing a nuclear program for civilian use. The good cop routine also featured the commander in chief saying his hope is the Iranian nuclear issue can be settled through diplomacy.
But Obama at several points Sunday pivoted and became the sabre-rattling bad cop. "We are prepared to exercise these options should they arise," Obama said of military strike options. The bad cop tack continued when Obama made clear Washington is standing side-by-side with Israel.
"I will say that we have closer military and intelligence consultation between our two countries than we've ever had. ... We are going to be sure that we work in lockstep as we proceed to try to solve this," he said, but then slipped back into his good cop hat, adding, "hopefully diplomatically."
The good cop-bad-cop method continued at the White House Monday, with Press Secretary Jay Carney both labeling Iran "a dangerous regime" and touting Obama's strategy of using sanctions to change the Iranian regime's behavior. The White House believes a sanction-based approach "is the right one," but will not remove any options from the table."