Archive for June 8th, 2009

“Sanctions lead Iran to find new energy partners”

“Sanctions lead Iran to find new energy partners”
June 3-8, 2009
     The National Iranian Oil Company has replaced French energy firm Total with China National Petroleum Corporation on a $4.7 billion contract to develop part of Iran’s South Pars gas field. The NIOC cited delays in the project (Agence France-Presse) and claimed that Total, facing pressure due to international sanctions against Iran, requested to be replaced (United Press International). On the same day, French President Nicholas Sarkozy warned Iran of further international pressure should Iran refuse talks with the P5+1 (Forbes, Reuters). Total claimed to still be involved in developing South Pars but did not comment on the CNPC deal (Reuters (2)).
     Zahra Hosseinian and Fredrik Dahl report that international sanctions have prevented Iran from exploiting its gas reserves, which constitute almost 16% of the world’s total. While the NIOC stated that Total could still participate in other aspects of the South Pars project (Reuters (3)), Iran believes Asian firms, such as Indian and Chinese firms, may be less vulnerable to international pressure (Fars News Agency). Tamsin Carlisle also cites Iran’s rewarding of another gas contract to a domestic firm, apparently at the expense of Royal Dutch Shell, as a sign that Iran is moving away from Western partners to develop the South Pars field (The National). Malaysia’s Petronas, which was originally set to work with Total, has stated it will remain involved by partnering with the CNPC (Wall Street Journal).
     Reuters provides a roundup of Iran’s main energy partners and joint projects here.
Agence France-Presse | United Press International | Forbes | Reuters | Reuters (2) | Reuters (3) | Fars News Agency | The National | Wall Street Journal

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“US-Iranian engagement: the view from Tehran”

“US-Iranian engagement: the view from Tehran”
June 2, 2009, Analysis by International Crisis Group
     In an analysis based on interviews with Iranian officials and analysts, International Crisis Group reports that contrary to US expectations of radical shifts in Iran’s foreign policy, Iran seeks diversified international relations to protect its own independence. Although dialogue with the US is no longer an ideological taboo, Iran-US enmity remains an important means for Tehran to rally domestic support and suppress dissent.
     For these reasons, Tehran seeks a “grand dialogue” with the US based on broad discussions on bilateral and regional issues, targeted cooperation on issues such as Afghanistan and Iraq, and the maintenance of an overall strategic rivalry in which Iran would preserve its anti-Israel posture. Iran’s diplomatic and economic relations with some European countries are offered as a model for a “respectful rivalry” between Iran and the US.
     However, Tehran remains highly suspicious of US intentions and continues to demand that the US respect the legitimacy of Iran’s regime and acknowledge Iran as a regional power. Tehran also considers uranium enrichment a nonnegotiable litmus test for gauging the sincerity of US engagement policy. The report finds that sanctions may be ineffective for changing Iran’s policies, writing that political independence is a higher priority than economic concerns and adding that further international pressure may cause Tehran to view US engagement as disingenuous. The report also suggests that due to President Ahmadinejad’s credentials among conservatives likely to oppose ties with the US, he may be more capable of enabling such ties than a reformist lacking the necessary political capital.
International Crisis Group