Archive for May, 2010

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“Sanctions rock Iran-Russia relations but not contracts”
Iran and Russia are clashing in one of their “worst rows” since the Cold War after President Ahmadinejad sharply criticized Russia for supporting UN sanctions, leading Moscow to accuse Ahmadinejad of “political demagoguery” (Reuters).
Russian officials have indicated that their support for additional UN sanctions will not interfere with existing contracts for the Bushehr nuclear power plant and the S-300 defense systems. However, some analysts argue that Iran-Russia relations are deteriorating and the investments are mainly aimed to demonstrate Russia’s independent foreign policy (Christian Science Monitor).

“Rise of regional powers challenges Western order”
Last week’s Iran-Turkey-Brazil agreement is being seen as a high-profile example of the rise of middle-sized powers pursuing interests that contradict those of traditional powers. James Traub argues that the US and other Western powers may have to promote the “democratization” of international institutions in order to avoid clashes of interest with rising powers (Foreign Policy). Emile Hokayem writes that while the West must recognize these rising powers, Turkey and Brazil must also help bear the security and political costs of maintaining Middle East stability (The National).
Today’s Zaman interviews several academics who believe Turkey’s active regional policy will continue even after the current Justice and Development Party loses power (Today’s Zaman).

“Is Iran reaching out to US?”
The US remains sharply critical of the Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal, while Iran threatens to withdraw from the deal if UN sanctions are imposed. However, Scott Peterson suggests that Iran may be signalling its wish to resolve tensions with the US over its nuclear program and avoid sanctions (Christian Science Monitor).
Iran officially notified the IAEA of the deal earlier this week.

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Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“Iran-Turkey-Brazil agreement aims to revive fuel swap deal”

The tripartite agreement signed by Iran, Brazil and Turkey could revive the nuclear fuel swap deal but leaves specific arrangements to be negotiated at a later date. Analysts point out that since the original October agreement, Iran has already enriched its uranium to 20% and is estimated to have increased its LEU stockpile to around 2,300 kg (ISIS, Carnegie Endowment). Iran has also announced that it will continue enriching uranium to 20% despite the new agreement (Guardian). However, some analysts believe that Iranian leaders are now more united in their support for the fuel swap (Council on Foreign Relations).

“US dismisses new agreement, announces draft sanctions”
Washington quickly responded to the tripartite agreement by presenting a draft UN sanctions resolution against Iran. The US response is being seen as a sharp blow to the efforts of Turkey and Brazil (Washington Post, Gary’s Choices) and has also generated criticism at the ongoing NPT Review Conference (Guardian, Acronym Institute).
The draft resolution is being backed by all P5 members, and some analysts say the provisions have been watered down to gain Russian and Chinese support (Washington Institute for Near East Policy). Iran has stated it could cancel the fuel swap deal if new sanctions are imposed (Reuters).

“Iran deal a high-profile opportunity and risk for Turky, Brazil”
The tripartite agreement is the result of extensive diplomatic efforts by Brazil and Turkey, with the leaders of both states personally visiting Tehran to finalize the deal. Both states are members of the UNSC and are opposing the new sanctions push.
Brazil’s expanding international presence in Africa and the Middle East is being attributed to its long-term aim to establish itself as a representative of developing countries and promote a more equitable world order (Council on Foreign Relations). Turkey is also pursuing an aggressive diplomatic policy to establish itself as a major regional player (Christian Science Monitor, RIA Novosti), but skeptics believe Iran is simply using Turkey and Brazil in a bid to avoid sanctions (Washington Institute for Near East Policy).

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“Turkey, Brazil step up mediation efforts ahead of visits to Tehran”

Turkey is hoping to host a meeting between Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Both parties have expressed interest. Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Brazilian President Lula da Silva will visit Tehran this week (Daily Star, Zaman).
Paulo Sotero argues that despite domestic opposition, da Silva is risking Brazil’s international reputation to build his own personal legacy ahead of the end of his presidential term (Foreign Policy).

“Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities: a net assessment”
A new IISS assessment of Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities concludes that Iran would likely need at least 4 years to deploy missiles capable of targeting Western Europe and more than a decade to target the US east coast (Reuters). The authors also argue that the missile program is not suited to conventional, biological or chemical warfare (Guardian).
A US Department of Defense assessment last month stated that with sufficient foreign assistance, Iran could develop and test an ICBM capable of reaching the US by 2015 (Department of Defense). Yousaf Butt argues that US strategy focusing on missile defense systems is not only ineffective but “dangerous and destabilizing” (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists).

Iran nuclear standoff persists after dinner meeting, U.S. says (Global Security Newswire)
US officials state that last week’s dinner attended by diplomats from Iran and the UNSC states did not resolve tensions and shows that Iran is concerned about new UN sanctions .