Archive for March, 2010

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“Economic challenges, subsidy-cut legislation threaten more domestic unrest”
President Ahmadinejad suggested a referendum to pass subsidy cuts that have been blocked by parliament. The cuts are raising concern over increased inflation and domestic unrest (Daily Star).
Jahangir Amuzegar outlines Iran’s economic difficulties, arguing that worsening conditions will add stress to domestic political turmoil (Carnegie Endowment).
Related post: “Growing economic concerns add to Tehran’s troubles”

“Sanctions watered down in face of continued difficulties”
David E. Sanger outlines some of the challenges faced by the US in pushing for additional UN sanctions against Iran, concluding that each successive round of sanctions becomes more difficult to pursue (New York Times).
In light of expected Chinese and Russian opposition, US and European officials have reportedly softened their proposals, dropping an attempt to ban trade of refined petroleum products (Los Angeles Times). European officials are denying reports that the UK and Germany are urging the US to soften the potential UN resolution on Iran (Politico).
Persia House reports that Iran has been “hoarding” gasoline ahead of potential sanctions (Persia House).

“China and Russia pressed Iran to accept U.N. deal”
The New York Times reports that Russia and China unsuccessfully urged Iran to accept the proposed nuclear fuel swap deal earlier this month, indicating that the two UNSC permanent members may be feeling pressure as Western efforts toward additional sanctions continue (New York Times).
Despite its declared opposition to sanctions, China joined a conference call of senior foreign ministry officials from the P5+1 states to discuss the proposed UN resolution (Reuters).

“Defining a containment strategy for a nuclear-armed Iran”
Mark Heinrich writes that some Western analysts are looking toward defining a “Cold War-style” containment strategy to deal with a nuclear-armed Iran. Such a strategy would work to prevent Iran from starting a conventional war, transferring nuclear information or materials to others, and support militant attacks abroad (Reuters).
See also “After Iran Gets the Bomb” by James M. Lindsay and Ray Takeyh (Foreign Affairs).

“Israel faces increased criticism over recent foreign policy”
Juan Cole argues that Israel’s controversial decision to expand settlements in East Jerusalem is hindering US and Israeli efforts to push for strong sanctions against Iran (Informed Comment). Orly Halpern argues that Israel is undermining its own security and international standing with its recent actions, including its continued exaggeration of the Iranian threat (Middle East Channel).

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“Pipeline deal with Pakistan part of Iran’s strong push in gas sector”
Iran signed an agreement with Pakistan for a $7.6-billion pipeline connecting the South Pars gas field with Pakistan’s Baluchistan and Sindh provinces (Reuters). Last week, Iran’s Bank Mellat issued a first installment of 1 billion Eurobonds to fund development of the South Pars gas field, and officials announced Iran would spend $1.6 billion on development projects in the gas sector this year (Daily Star).

“Angarsk nuclear fuel bank initiative moving ahead”
The IAEA is moving toward creating an international nuclear fuel bank for the UAE and other emerging nuclear states with 120 tons of LEU from Russia (The National). Russian officials have announced their intention to provide the first batch of LEU by the end of 2010 (RIA Novosti), and India stated its interest in participating as a donor country (RIA Novosti (2)).
Developing nations have opposed fuel bank initiatives in the past, citing concern over their rights to independently develop the nuclear fuel cycle.

“China expanding oil options beyond Iran”
Vivienne Walt writes that a drop in Chinese oil imports from Iran from 500,000 bbl. per day to 250,000 bbl. per day between January 2009 and January 2010 indicates Beijing is looking for alternative sources of oil (Time).
During a visit by British Foreign Minister David Miliband, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi indicated that China remained opposed to sanctions (Reuters).

“Iran offers nuclear fuel exchange” (The National)
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, announced that Iran is prepared to accept a single exchange of 1,200 kg of its LEU for nuclear fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. The exchange, however, would be on Iranian soil, a condition that Western powers have previously rejected.

“AQ Khan documents claim Pakistan directly involved in Iran’s nuclear program”
The Washington Post reports on an 11-page document written by nuclear scientist AQ Khan detailing Pakistan’s role in providing nuclear know-how and centrifuge parts (Washington Post).
Simon Henderson, the source of the documents, wrote about his relationship with Khan last year (The Times). ISIS has criticized Khan’s information as “self-serving” and inaccurate (ISIS).

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
The secret history: the C-802 cruise missile (DC Bureau)
Joseph Trento details how Iran obtained C-802 anti-ship missiles from China (Part 1) and how the CIA failed to detect French and Israeli involvement in secret arms sales to Iran starting in 1988 (Part II).
Iran announced that it was producing a new short-range cruise missile called the Nasr-1 (Al Jazeera) and reported that it had successfully test-fired its surface-to-surface Nour missile (Xinhua).

“US facing difficulties in enforcing own sanctions against Iran”
The New York Times reports that over the past decade, the US has granted over $107 billion in contracts and other benefits to companies engaged in business with Iran despite sanctions (New York Times). US lawmakers responded by pushing for harsher sanctions (AFP). The Associated Press earlier reported that “sloppy” US government records were making it difficult to enforce restrictions on exports to Iran (Associated Press).

“US shifting gears on sanctions, support for Green Movement”
Howard LaFranchi writes that in the face of difficulties in gathering international support for strong UN sanctions, the US is shifting its focus to unilateral sanctions, which are moving forward with more momentum (Christian Science Monitor).
Paul Richter suggests another shift in US policy, writing that Washington is looking toward supporting the Green Movement while focusing on sanctions targeting the Revolutionary Guards (Los Angeles Times).
The US will extend its current sanctions under an executive order declaring a national emergency on Iran (Global Security Newswire).

“Israeli leaders may favor supporting Green Movement over military option”
Charles Levinson believes Israel’s leaders may be tilting toward supporting Iran’s opposition Green Movement instead of launching a military strike (Wall Street Journal). Meanwhile, Israel’s UN ambassador Gabriela Shalev stated that the world was heading toward the “two bad options” of either an Iranian nuclear weapon or the use of force to stop Iran’s nuclear program (AFP, Associated Press).

“Can Japan preside over UNSC sanctions?” (Yomiuri Shimbun)
With Japan scheduled to assume the presidency of the UNSC in April, the Yomiuri Shimbun argues that Japan, despite being dependent on Iran for over 10% of its crude oil, must side with the West and engage China to implement additional sanctions against Iran.

Weekly roundup

Additional articles and reports from the past week
“Brazil, Turkey opposing UNSC sanctions against Iran”
UNSC members such as Brazil, Lebanon and Turkey are not supporting additional sanctions against Iran, creating the possibility of a sharply divided vote (Turtle Bay, Wall Street Journal). Matias Spektor believes Brazil is opposing sanctions in a bid to preempt an “intervention” in Iran, avoid toughening Iran’s stance, and highlight broader inconsistencies in the non-proliferation regime (Council on Foreign Relations).
Michael Jacobson urges the US to also focus on closing loopholes in existing sanctions against Iran (Washington Institute for Near East Policy).

“Arguments against US, Israeli military strike”
Steven A. Cook argues that Israel is not likely to risk an “unprecedented” breach with the US by launching a military strike against Iran (Foreign Policy). Michael O’Hanlon and Bruce Riedel argue against military action by the US, calling instead for sanctions, deterrence and containment (Financial Times). Roger Cohen also offers strong arguments against a military attack, positing that engagement over the past year has been more productive than 7 years of “axis-of-evil US grandstanding” (New York Times).

“Iran game stimulates policy discussions with sobering ‘what ifs’” (Belfer Center)
Participants from last year’s Harvard simulation game of diplomacy over Iran offer their brief impressions of the results.
(See also “Serious play: war games explore options on Iran”)

“Amano’s tough line highlights IAEA divide seen during election”

“Amano’s tough line highlights IAEA divide seen during election”
March 1, 2010
     At the first IAEA Board of Governors meeting since starting his term, Director General Yukiya Amano stated that the agency continued to verify “the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran” but was unable to confirm that “all nuclear material in Iran” was being used in peaceful activities due to a lack of Iranian cooperation [emphases in original statement] (IAEA). Amano’s new “tougher line”, first indicated in the agency’s February report, has been welcomed by many Western analysts but has led Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to accuse the IAEA of lacking independence from the US and “some other countries”.
     Borzou Daragahi writes that Tehran has “dropped its previous deference” to the agency and is criticizing Amano specifically to apply pressure. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called the new director general “a nonstarter and a novice” and senior MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi made a pointed reference to Amano’s contentious election victory last year (Los Angeles Times).
     The Non-Aligned Movement also prepared a statement criticizing the February report for its language and its exclusion of Iran’s responses on “several issues”, and suggests the report was influenced by “undue political pressure” (Press TV).
IAEA | Los Angeles Times | Press TV

Related posts:
“Narrow victory for new IAEA chief highlights strong divisions”
“Amano to inherit divided IAEA, ‘stalemate’ on Iran”