Archive for April, 2009

“Rising Mideast arms imports may stoke Iran fears of attack”

“Rising Mideast arms imports may stoke Iran fears of attack”
April 27, 2009
     The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) reports a 38% increase in Middle East arms imports between 2004 and 2008 compared to 1999 to 2003, with the UAE as the largest regional importer (SIPRI, SIPRI (2)). With Iran accounting for only 5 percent of Middle East arms imports, Pieter Wezeman suggests that Iran’s ability to obtain conventional arms is limited, warning that Iran may seek nuclear weapons to counter the growing conventional arsenals of states such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia (Associated Press).
SIPRI | SIPRI (2) | Associated Press

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“Israel to urge China to pressure Iran”

“Israel to urge China to pressure Iran”
April 23, 2009
     Israel is advising China that a nuclear Iran may result in a military conflict and hurt China’s energy interests. However, Yitzhak Shichor states that China sees such a conflict as unlikely and would secure oil from Saudi Arabia if necessary. Shichor argues China considers energy issues secondary to using Iran as a “tool” for indirectly confronting the US.
Jerusalem Post

“Defining US incentives for Iranian cooperation”

“Defining US incentives for Iranian cooperation”
April 23-28, 2009
     Following US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s warnings of more potential sanctions against Iran (BBC), the Daily Star argues that the US must also offer more clearly defined incentives for cooperation. The editorial suggests the issues of Israeli settlements and Egypt-Iran rivalry as areas for possible deals (Daily Star).
     Richard Morningstar, the US Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy, has mentioned Iran as a potential supplier for the Nabucco pipeline (Press TV), referring to Western investments in Iran’s energy sector as a “potential carrot” for improved relations (Reuters). M. K. Bhadrakumar writes that the US is indicating a desire for Iran to act as a supplier and transit country for gas supplies to Europe and provide an alternative to Russian gas (Asia Times Online).
BBC | Daily Star | Press TV | Reuters | Asia Times Online

“US and Iranian business interests reaching out”

“US and Iranian business interests reaching out”
April 21-22, 2009
     The Mehr News Agency writes that the attendance of over 450 companies from 34 countries—including 5 unidentified US firms—at an annual Iranian energy exhibition indicates that international sanctions against Iran have been ineffective (Mehr News). Mark Wallace, president of United Against Nuclear Iran, criticizes the participants for “undermining” efforts against Iran’s nuclear program (World Tribune).
     However, Stanley Reed reports that international sanctions are limiting the development of Iran’s oil reserves and forcing businesses to seek financing at high rates from suboptimal banks. Reed writes that with low oil prices compounding the scarcity of funding and causing fears of social unrest, executives are eager for US investments and engagement (BusinessWeek).
Mehr News | World Tribune | BusinessWeek

“Israel puts Iran issue ahead of Palestinians”

“Israel puts Iran issue ahead of Palestinians”
April 22-24, 2009
     The Washington Post reports that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will require progress in stopping Iran’s nuclear development as a condition for peace talks with the Palestinians. The US would prefer to deal with both issues separately and curb Iran’s regional influence by advancing Israeli-Palestinian talks, but Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon cites the urgency of the nuclear issue and the need to prevent Iranian sabotage of the peace process. Palestinian officials are concerned that delays in talks will enable expansion of Israel’s West Bank settlements (Washington Post).
     However, Ayalon denies the report’s conclusions, stating that although there is a need to “rein in” Iran to resolve the Palestinian issue, talks with the Palestinians should continue regardless of Iran (Associated Press, Jerusalem Post). US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has cautioned Israel that the Iranian and Palestinian issues must go “hand-in-hand” (Washington Post (2)).
Washington Post | Associated Press | Jerusalem Post | Washington Post (2)

“Turkey’s developing role in US Middle East policy”

“Turkey’s developing role in US Middle East policy”
April 7 & 16, 2009
     Steven A. Cook writes that despite US skepticism of Turkey’s developing ties with states including Iran and Syria, US and Turkish policies toward Iran remain “generally consistent.” Cook believes that Ankara seeks stable US-Iran relations and regional stability to secure supplies of Iranian natural gas, adding that Ankara demonstrated its diplomatic usefulness by sponsoring indirect talks between Israel and Syria in 2008. Recent tensions between Israel and Turkey may be improved should Jerusalem choose to deal with Syria through Turkish mediation (Council on Foreign Relations).
     Mustafa El-Labbad agrees that Ankaran can help advance US interests in the Middle East, referring to Turkey as a potential “joker” card for the US. El-Labbad believes the US will work to counterbalance Tehran’s regional power by enabling Turkish influence in northern Iraq and pushing for Israel-Syria talks to separate Damascus from Tehran (Al-Ahram Weekly).
Council on Foreign Relations | Al-Ahram Weekly

“First Iran, now Arabs going nuclear”

“First Iran, now Arabs going nuclear”
April 17, 2009, Interview with Richard Falk
     Richard Falk, chair of the board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, states in an interview that it is “too late” for a world free of nuclear energy. Falk also argues that in addition to Iran’s “latent” nuclear-weapons capability, the failure of the nuclear weapons states to fulfill their NPT obligations nullifies any legal restriction on nuclear weapons proliferation. However, Falk indicates that international norms—including US and Israeli opposition—remain an obstacle for Arab states wishing to master the nuclear fuel cycle.
Al Jazeera