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"Taking advantage of the ado surrounding the failed airliner bombing and the new prominence of the al Qaeda peril, the Obama administration has finally given up its sanctions strategy for averting the rise of a nuclear-armed Iran. US secretary of stateHillary Clinton was tasked with the public announcement: "The Obama administration wants to keep the door to dialogue open with Iran," she said Jan. 4, then added a remark which let Iran off completely of the American hook: "…although the United States has avoided using the term deadline, it cannot wait indefinitely to hear form Iran." Her words explicitly backtracked on statements by other senior administration officials, including National Security Adviser James Jones, in recent interviews that Tehran's deadline for responding to international proposals expired on Dec. 31. DEBKAfile's Iranian sources report that Tehran sees Washington as so eager to reach the negotiating table that it is falling back from effective penalties step by step, including an embargo on refined oils and benzene, and even willing to forgive Iran's failure to meet a highly publicized international deadline. "Our goal is to pressure the Iranian government, particularly the Revolutionary Guards elements without contributing to the suffering of Iranians," Clinton explained. Threatening Iran's Revolutionary Guards instead of its regime is nothing but a feeble face-saver, our Iranian sources maintain, since the IRGC, whose financial operations and its management of Iran's nuclear program subsist on alternative "black market" economic mechanisms is hardly vulnerable to international sanctions."