Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's refusal to bring up a Republican sanctions bill against Iran is "bizarre" because it would only strengthen the U.S. nuclear disarmament deal with the Middle East nation, says Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
"It's bizarre … The bill we're talking about might, might impose sanctions a year down the road," Abrams, former deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"What it does is strengthen the president's negotiating hand by saying to Iran, 'If you guys screw around or if we do a deal and you guys cheat, there are going to be heavy sanctions.'"
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"It's really quite bizarre that the president thinks we have to be so careful of offending the poor, sensitive ayatollahs."
Reid has reportedly withheld the bill from a vote at the request of President Barack Obama, who fears that additional sanctions hanging over Iran would upset its leaders.
"While we're being so sensitive about the poor ayatollahs, what are they doing? I mean they call us every name in the book," he said.
"Their foreign minister goes to Beirut where he lays a wreath at the grave of Imad Mughniyeh, a Hezbollah terrorist who killed more Americans than anybody else until 9/11, and they're shipping arms to Bahrain, to rebels there.
"I mean they're playing the same game with us and we're just walking on eggshells here."
Abrams says the Obama administration wrongly believes the longstanding problems with Iran are "going to be over and we're going to have outreach and engagement and we're going to be friends and this is a great, historic turning point."
"The way the Iranians seem to see it is, 'The Americans are backing off and now we can just quietly and slowly get nuclear weapons. Maybe we'll slow down a little bit on the past nuclear weapons,'" he said.
"They're not interested in friendship, they're not interested in engagement, they're interested in ending the sanctions and still creeping ahead for nuclear weapons.
"This is why our allies in the region — start with Israel and some of the Arabs as well, are afraid. They're afraid because they're wondering, 'What's the matter with you guys? Don't you see what Iran is up to?'"
Abrams fear the United States is "frankly, kissing up to the Iranians and not calling them on any of this conduct of theirs."
Abrams believes the fact that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not mentioned in the Senate's report that concluded the Benghazi attack in which four Americans were killed means she will probably escape any blame.
"You're asking me if I think she's going to get away with it. There's a good chance. One of the things that emerges in that report is looking at the circumstances there. The CIA did increase securities for its host there. It's only the State Department that looked at it and said no," Abrams said.
"And it looks as if … she's going to skate. Remember what happened in the first report on this. They didn't even interview her. The review board, the so-called Accountability Review Board, did not interview Hillary Clinton."
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