Lew: ‘Moral Obligation’ for Force as ‘Last Option’ in Iran

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Jacob “Jack” Lew, U.S. Treasury secretary, right, listens during a Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) meeting at the U.S. Treasury with Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 9, 2013.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was speaking of the “moral obligation to reserve force as a last option” in the international bid to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weaponry.

“Any CEO, general counsel or business person who thinks now may be a good time to test our resolve, better think again,” he said last night. “We’re watching closely. We are prepared to move against anyone who violates our sanctions.”

Lew, keynote speaker at the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s 100 Years of Hope dinner, acknowledged the legacy of the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian organization, a “proud history and one of never standing idly by in silence.”

He also reassured his audience of the Obama administration’s resolve in Iran, where the U.S. and other world powers are attempting to negotiate a nuclear truce — while imposing tough sanctions against Tehran for its continuing development of nuclear power.

“Our goal is to build pressure on the Iranian government,” Lew said. “In this case, the only acceptable end result is an Iran that does not have nuclear weapons. I believe we have a moral obligation to reserve force as a last option.”

The secretary accepted the JDC’s Henry Morgenthau Award recognizing the long partnership between the organization and the U.S. government.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, sex therapist Ruth Westheimer and Philippines Ambassador Jose Cuisia were among the guests dining on kosher braised beef at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington. Cuisia accepted an award from the JDC for his country’s role in saving more than 1,000 Jews from the Nazis.

Westheimer, 85, offered Blitzer and his wife courtesy professional services “in privacy,” she joked. “He probably doesn’t need it,” she was quick to add.

Around the corner, David Rubenstein got a little help from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi cutting the ribbon of his namesake gallery at the National Archives. Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group, has given the Archives over $13 million, which was matched by the government.

The gallery will be the home of Rubenstein’s 1297 copy of the Magna Carta and other historic documents in the permanent “Records of Rights” exhibition.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, and National Archivist David Ferriero were present for the cocktail reception. Pelosi, a California Democrat, called the gallery a reminder of the “roots of our democracy and our wings, how we took off to broaden freedom. That is our ongoing challenge.”

“ The rights embodied in the Magna Carta, they’re terrific,” Rubenstein said. “But these rights have to be for everybody, not just a few white, property ( holding) males. We have a much better society than we did before.”

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