Archive for the 'Iran’s Relations with the Nonproliferation Regime' Category

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“Brazil reduces involvement in Iranian nuclear negotiations”

In an interview, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim states that Brazil will no longer be proactively engaged in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, saying Brazil “got [its] fingers burned” over the Tehran Declaration. Brazil argues that its deal with Iran met conditions outlined in a letter from President Barack Obama (Financial Times).
The Economist criticizes President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s “Tehran adventure” as a naive move that has only served to raise tensions with the US (Economist). However, in an extensive overview of the nuclear fuel swap deal, Mark Fitzpatrick argues that the deal could be beneficial if Iran were to export its LEU and stop enriching to 20% (Survival).

“Iran responds to sanctions with more uranium enrichment”
Iran has denied visas to two members of a larger IAEA inspection team, while IAEO head Ali Akbar Salehi claimed that Iran has produced 17 kg of 20% enriched uranium and is capable of producing 5 kg per month. An ISIS analysis suggests that Salehi’s recent announcement of plans to build 4 new research reactors is unrealistic and may be an effort to create a pretext for continuing production of 20% enriched uranium (ISIS).
Tony Karon argues that Iran is outmanuevering the West by creating new bargaining chips of its own in response to international pressure and sanctions (The National). Robert Haddick writes that Iran, having studied how Iraq resisted UN pressure over WMDs for over a decade, will likely continue a strategy of dodging inspections and creating strategic uncertainty (Foreign Policy).

“Iran-Israel rhetoric raises concerns over escalation”
Scott Peterson examines the risk of escalating rhetoric between Israel and Iran leading to war (Christian Science Monitor). Earlier this week, Israel launched a new military spy satellite, increasing its number of spy satellites to four (Al Jazeera).

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Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“UN sanctions passed without unanimity for first time”

The UN Security Council passed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran with 12 votes in favor, 2 against by Turkey and Brazil, and 1 abstention by Lebanon. No UNSC member had voted against any of the previous 3 sanctions. The US called the sanctions the “toughest” imposed on Iran, but Iranian leaders said their nuclear program would continue (Christian Science Monitor). AFP lists the new Iranian entities and individuals targeted by the sanctions (AFP).
Despite US claims of a diplomatic victory, analysts are calling the sanctions “remarkably weak” (Race for Iran) and “ineffective (Foreign Policy), and James M. Lindsay argues that division within the UNSC makes tougher sanctions in the future unlikely (Council on Foreign Relations).

“US, Iran avoid rejecting nuclear fuel swap deal”
Despite earlier warnings that new UN sanctions would derail talks on the proposed nuclear fuel swap, Iran has indicated would continue its cooperation with Turkey and Brazil (Today’s Zaman). Unnamed diplomats had previously stated that the Vienna Group (US, Russia and France) had rejected the fuel swap proposal (AP), but US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reports the US is prepared to meet with Iran to discuss the Iran-Turkey-Brazil agreement (Today’s Zaman).

“Iran sidesteps sanctions with shell companies, key alliances”
Jo Becker outlines some of Iran’s tactics for circumventing sanctions by using networks of shell companies (New York Times). Thomas Erdbrink and Colum Lynch write that Iran has also succeeded in building alliances with states such as Turkey, Brazil, India and Japan, though Karim Sadjadpour argues that these states will not jeopardize their relationship with the US for Iran (Washington Post).
The US has appointed a new Special Advisor for Nonproliferation and Arms Control to oversee the implementation of all UN sanctions against Iran and North Korea (US Department of State).

“Iran threatens to downgrade relations with IAEA”
As the IAEA convened a quarterly Board of Governors meeting with Iran on the agenda, Iran’s parliament announced it will draft a bill to reduce relations with the agency (The National). IAEA head Yukiya Amano recently described Iran as a “special case” for the agency (AFP).
Mark Hibbs outlines the agenda of the Board of Governors meeting (Carnegie Endowment).

“Iran one year after Ahmadinejad’s reelection”
Foreign Policy magazine provides special coverage on Iran one year after the controversial reelection of President Ahmadinejad. A series of articles assesses the Western media’s coverage of Iran’s domestic politics and the significance of the Green Movement (Foreign Policy). Meanwhile, Abbas Milani, Gary Sick, Karim Sadjadpour and Steve Inskeep discuss the impact of last year’s elections (Carnegie Endowment).
Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the elections, but opposition leaders Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have called off planned protests due to safety concerns (New York Times).
Trita Parsi argues that international pressure on Iran is helping the government sideline the domestic opposition (Bloomberg).

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“IAEA report could undermine fuel swap deal”

ISIS provides a close analysis of the IAEA’s latest Iran report, which describes increased LEU production and advanced centrifuge development and calls for Iranian cooperation to resolve outstanding issues (ISIS). Iran’s atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi disputed the report’s findings that Iran was engaging in pyroprocessing (a process that can be used to purify uranium metal for nuclear warheads) and had removed relevant equipment (AFP).
The IAEA’s finding that Iran has over 2,400 kg of LEU could weaken support for the nuclear fuel swap deal, which would require Iran to export only 1,200 kg (Today’s Zaman).

“Leaked letter suggests US open to nuclear fuel swap deal”
In a leaked letter to Brazil’s President Lula da Silva, US President Obama criticizes Iran for undermining confidence-building efforts but offers a “potentionally important compromise” that closely resembles the Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal, leading some analysts to criticize Washington’s cold reaction to the deal (Politico).
Turkey and Brazil are continuing to push the Vienna Group to accept the nuclear fuel swap deal (Reuters), and a group of prominent US analysts and former diplomats at the National Iranian American Council urged Western powers to accept the fuel swap deal (NIAC).

“Sanctions drive weakened by Israel flotilla raid, fuel swap deal”
Barbara Slavin writes that Israel’s raid of a flotilla of aid ships is complicating US efforts toward UN sanctions against Iran (IPS). Gareth Porter adds that the Iran-Turkey-Brazil fuel swap deal is creating division among UNSC members over strong sanctions (IPS). Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that the resolution excludes “paralyzing sanctions” and takes Russian and Chinese economic inerests into account (AFP).
Howard LaFranchi writes that the latest IAEA report could bolster sanctions efforts (Christian Science Monitor).

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.

Weekly roundup

Additional articles and reports from the past week
“Iran attempting to revive nuclear fuel swap deal”
Iran is lobbying UNSC member states in a bid to avoid sanctions and reopen talks on the nuclear fuel swap deal (Washington Post, PressTV). The US has cautiously stated its interest in sincere talks brokered by the IAEA (Reuters). Turkey continues to declare its strong interest in reviving the fuel swap deal (AFP). Some US analysts argue that the US should allow the fuel swap to take place on Iranian territory (FAS (1)(2)).
The renewed efforts come amid other Iranian overtures, including an agreement “in principle” to allow IAEA inspectors more access to its Natanz site (Reuters), as well as a letter sent by President Ahmadinejad to President Obama in March (PressTV). However, Iran also announced that the location for a new nuclear site has been decided (Reuters).

“Gates memo raises concerns over drift toward containment policy”
The New York Times reports on a secret January memo by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warning that the US does not have an effective long-term policy for stopping Iran’s nuclear program (New York Times). The White House has criticized the Times’ characterization of the unseen memo, but many US analysts agree that with targeted sanctions and diplomacy unlikely to change Iran’s nuclear policies, Washington may ultimately be forced to pursue a policy of containment (Washington Post).
Laura Rozen suggests the memo may have been leaked in an attempt to steer the US away from containment and toward a harder line (Politico).

Israel debates unilateral Iran attack (Wall Street Journal)
The Wall Street Journal reports that Israeli leaders, concerned that the US is willing to accept a nuclear-armed Iran, are debating options for a preemptive military strike against Iran without US approval.

“Kissinger, Shultz favor US-Russia cooperation on anti-Iran missile defense”
In separate interviews, former US diplomats Henry Kissinger and George Shultz suggest that US-Russian collaboration on missile defenses against Iran could help resolve disputes over missile defense and the Iranian nuclear issue (Christian Science Monitor (1)(2)).
Both Kissinger and Shultz are part of the so-called “Gang of Four”, a group of influential former US diplomats calling for global nuclear disarmament.

“Iran, US compete to set nuclear agenda ahead of NPT Review Conference”

“Iran, US compete to set nuclear agenda ahead of NPT Review Conference”
April 13-19, 2010
     Iran’s 2-day nuclear conference, titled “Nuclear energy for all, nuclear weapons for no one”, was attended by representatives of 56 countries, which exceeded the 47 countries represented in last week’s US Nuclear Security Summit but included fewer senior officials (Telegraph). President Ahmadinejad called for a new international nuclear agency to counterbalance the IAEA and argued that nuclear weapon states (NWS) should be suspended from the IAEA and its board of governors (Al Jazeera), while Supreme Leader Khamenei sharply criticized the US and Israel (PressTV). The IAEA is not listed among the conference’s participants and has not released any official statements, although Director Yukiya Amano was invited to attend (The National).
     Julian Borger describes last week’s nuclear conferences in the US and Tehran as “qualifying rounds” ahead of next month’s NPT Review Conference, where Iran will likely attempt to deflect attention from its own nuclear program to the failure of the NWS to disarm and Israel’s non-NPT status (Guardian). Barbara Slavin suggests that the US Nuclear Posture Review, which indicates that nuclear force may be used against Iran, has given Iran a “public relations tool” to try and focus global attention on US nuclear policy (Foreign Policy).
Telegraph | Al Jazeera | PressTV | The National | Guardian | Foreign Policy

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“US media hyping Iranian nuclear threat”
Scott Lucas strongly criticizes a recent New York Times report claiming that Western intelligence agencies believe Iran is planning two new nuclear sites. The same edition of the Times also features an article on the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran, and Lucus criticizes the juxtaposition as “dangerous journalism” designed to gain support for military action against Iran (Enduring America).
Glenn Greenwald criticizes Fox News coverage of an unclassified US intelligence report. The intelligence report states that Iran expanded its nuclear infrastructure in 2009 and is “keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons…if a decision is made to do so”, but Fox claims the report concludes Iran is working toward a nuclear weapon (Salon).

“Questioning Turkey’s ability to mediate Iran issue”
The National reports that Turkish officials are becoming frustrated with Iran’s inability to offer solutions to resolve the nuclear issue (The National). Zaman suggests that, due to traditional rivalry and Turkey’s close relations with Arab states, it is not clear whether Iran trusts Turkey enough to act as a mediator (Zaman).
David Kenner writes that Turkey, despite its strong rhetoric of independence in regional issues, is more a “developing power caught between two stronger poles” and will ultimately side with its Western allies if pressed (Foreign Policy).

“US and Iran courting China ahead of sanctions vote”
The New York Times outlines recent tensions and thaws in US-China relations, including China’s move toward supporting UN sanctions against Iran (New York Times). While US President Obama spoke with Chinese President Hu Jintao for an hour to discuss ties, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili visited Beijing to speak against sanctions and call for continued international negotiations (Wall Street Journal).

Iran nuclear scientist defects to US in CIA ‘intelligence coup’ (ABC News)
ABC News reports that Iranian nuclear scientist Shahram Amiri, who disappeared last year, defected to the US in an “intelligence coup” for the CIA. Iran had accused the US of abducting Amiri, while the US denied any involvement [previously covered here].

IAEA Chief: Iran sanctions will make life hard for agency (German Press Agency)
In an interview, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano stated that sanctions against Iran would make the efforts of nuclear inspectors more difficult in the short term. Amano added that Iran had yet to provide an adequate response regarding several outstanding issues.