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More on That Accelerated Iran-Sanctions Timetable

Sarah Palin may think an Iran sanctions package is off the Obama administration’s agenda, but — quelle surprise — it appears that the opposite is occurring. Both before and after yesterday’s Obama-Sarkozy meeting at the White House, sources close to the diplomatic effort indicated that President Obama wants to see robust multilateral agreement on economic sanctions targeting the Iranian regime leadership by next month. Whether that will take the administration’s preferred course of approval by the United Nations Security Council is unclear. But the current thinking is that the Russians will acquiesce to a sanctions package, and when that happens, the Chinese will not veto it.

With the three other veto-holding Security Council powers behind sanctions, the U.S., U.K. and France don’t need Russia or China to bless the sanctions — they need them not to stand in the way. The current thinking, bolstered by some firmer words yesterday from a Chinese official spokesman on the undesirability of a nuclear Iran, is that when Russia signals that it won’t object — which appears to be a safe assumption — China will not want to be the sticking point obstructing a sanctions package. Forestalling that outcome is why Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili is heading for Beijing.

While the Obama administration views economic sanctions as an obstacle to any military action against Iran, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser to the Carter White House, views them as a prelude to it. In an interview to air later this afternoon on al-Jazeera, Brzezinski said:

“I don’t think the sanctions by themselves are going to resolve the nuclear problem. But I think there is an attempt ongoing in the United States and from outside the United States to push the United States towards a more antagonistic policy towards Iran, not excluding the threats of force, which in my view are counterproductive and which perhaps are designed on the part of some, to precipitate a direct collision between the United States and Iran.”

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