Posts Tagged 'Green Movement'

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“Calibrating the dual-track approach of sanctions and diplomacy”

With the EU and the US passing additional sanctions against Iran, George Perkovich calls sanctions “the least bad option” in the absence of a military option. Perkovich adds that while the EU and the US increase international pressure, “outside actors” should create opportunities for cooperation with Iran (Carnegie Endowment). However, Ray Takeyh criticizes this “dual-track” approach, arguing that Iran will be less likely to cede its “nuclear trump card” amidst the growing imbalance of conventional power. Takeyh believes internal reform through the Green Movement is necessary for constructive nuclear dialogue (Herald Tribune).

“Ahmadinejad sets conditions for negotiations”
President Ahmadinejad announced Iran’s conditions for international negotiations, which he said would not take place before the end of August. Ahmadinejad called on the P5+1 to clarify their positions on Israel’s nuclear program, their committments under the NPT, and whether they seek friendship or emnity with Iran (Reuters). However, Iran’s delay on talks does not apply to Turkey and Brazil, and Ahmadinejad described the fuel swap deal as a potential means of engagement. Turkey and Russia have stated their interest in pursuing the fuel swap deal (Christian Science Monitor), and the G8 stated that they “welcome and commend” the diplomatic efforts of Brazil and Turkey (MOFA).

“US unable to divide Syria and Iran”
The Wall Street Journal reports that Iran has supplied Syria with a sophisticated radar system that could provide early warning of any Israeli air attack. Both countries deny the report, which could complicate the US’s strategy of engaging Syria (Wall Street Journal). Nicholas Blanford reviews some of the potential factors behind the US’s inability to draw Syria away from Iran, including Washington’s prioritization of other issues, Israel’s lack of enthusiasm for peace talks with Syria, closer ties between Syria and Hezbollah, and the shift in Turkey’s Israel policy (Christian Science Monitor).

“Saudi Arabia seeks assurance on US policy on Iran”
Saudi King Abdullah met with US President Obama on Tuesday amidst growing differences of opinion regarding Iran and other regional issues. According to analysts, Riyadh believes sanctions will be ineffective but has no alternative solutions (AFP). Simon Henderson argues that Riyadh does not believe the US can stop Iran’s nuclear efforts, leading the kingdom to pursue its own nuclear energy program. Henderson adds that Riyadh also hopes to put some distance in its relationship with Washington to gain more regional credibility among Sunni states (Foreign Policy).

“Tracing history and future of Iran’s nuclear program”
Der Spiegel provides a detailed 2-part overview of Iran’s nuclear program (Der Spiegel), while Joseph Cirincione and Elise Connor look at the remaining steps Iran will have to take to develop a nuclear weapon (Foreign Policy).

Weekly roundup

Articles and reports from the past week
“New reports of Saudi-Israeli military cooperation against Iran”

The Times reports that Saudi Arabia has agreed to allow Israel to use its airspace in an attack on Iran, conducting tests to disengage its air defenses against Israeli jets (Times). Israel and Saudi Arabia have both denied the reports (Asharq Alawsat, Haaretz).
Similar reports have surfaced before, including the summer of last year (Times, Huffington Post).

“Looking for next steps after UN sanctions”
Amid widespread criticism over the efficacy of sanctions, Matthew Levitt counters that the new UN sanctions were precisely targeted and pave the way for additional US and European sanctions (Foreign Policy). The US and the EU already imposed new sanctions this week (Reuters, AP).
However, the Wall Street Journal reports that Germany increased its exports to Iran in the first quarter, pointing out that enforcement remains a key challenge (Wall Street Journal). David Sanger writes that the US, facing expectations that the latest sanctions will fail to stop Iran’s nuclear program, is also implementing strategies involving military containment and the luring away of Iran’s nuclear experts (New York Times).

“Russia keeps options open on S-300 sale”
An unnamed Russian source claims Russia is freezing a contract to sell S-300 air defense missiles to Iran based on the stipulations of the latest UN sanctions (AFP). However, the Foreign Ministry and other officials have indicated that the sanctions will not affect the contract (RIA Novosti, RT). Oliver Bloom details how the sanctions would not specifically prohibit the sale of the S-300 and only call for “vigilance and restraint” over the transfer of arms (CSIS).
Russia’s failure to deliver the system since the contract was first disclosed in 2007 has been a point of friction with Iran (Reuters). Russia is now offering the S-300 system to Turkey as well (RIA Novosti).

“Vienna Group, Iran send cautious signals on fuel swap”
President Ahmadinejad indicated Tehran’s willingness to pursue nuclear negotiations with major powers but promised that conditions for such talks would be announced soon (AFP). US officials also stated that the nuclear fuel swap deal could be the basis for negotiations, and Laura Rozen points out that the Vienna Group’s list of concerns regarding the Tehran Declaration could be interpreted as a “position paper” for potential future talks (Politico).
Meanwhile, Iran’s parliament called on the government to continue enriching uranium to 20% in response to “the bullying countries” (AFP).

“Green Movement unable to truly challenge state”
The one-year anniversary of last year’s controversial reelection of President Ahmadinejad was marked by “sporadic but minor clashes” in Tehran after opposition leaders cancelled protests (Al Jazeera). With the government appearing to be stable after surviving its internal instability, Juan Cole analyzes the Green Movement’s limitations and argues that the US should engage with the current regime in direct negotiations (Informed Comment).
Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett accuse Western journalists of overestimating the Green Movement’s strength (Foreign Policy). However, Karim Sadjadpour argues that the government has been delegitimized and faces stark economic challenges, and the Green Movement represents a long-term effort toward civil rights (Carnegie Endowment).

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
“Companies feeling more pressure to cut Iran ties”

The New York Times reports that US efforts to pressure Western companies to isolate Iran are extending beyond banks and financial institutions and causing major manufacturers and service providers to reduce or end affiliations with Iran (New York Times). However, Simone Dinah Hartmann strongly criticizes Austria for cultivating its business ties with Iran and increasing exports by 6% in 2009, accusing Vienna of “appeasement” (Wall Street Journal).
Iran has passed new tax exemptions for foreign investment in its capital markets and raised its cap on foreign ownership of Iranian companies from 10% to 20% (Reuters, PressTV), and officials claim the Revolutionary Guard Corps has the technological know-how to replace foreign firms on major energy projects (Associated Press).

“Despite hard talk, Russia seeks to maintain Iran ties”
Foreign companies withdrawing from Iran include Russian’s Lukoil, which was involved in a major oil development project named Anaran, but Russian firms with fewer US ties, such as Gazprom, remain engaged in other development projects (Mianeh).
A Xinhua analysis argues that Russia is hardening its stance against Iran to facilitate improving ties with the US but remains unlikely to substantially cut ties with Iran (Xinhua). However, Iranian daily Tehran-e Emrooz speculates that Russia is now attempting to persuade Turkey to adopt an anti-Iran stance and support international sanctions (MEMRI).

Iranian economy’s biggest vulnerability: Iran (Middle East Channel)
Patrick Barry provides a detailed outline of systematic weaknesses in Iran’s economic infrastructure, arguing that the US should refrain from imposing sanctions and allow Iran’s economy to deteriorate of its own accord. Barry adds that Iran’s plan to achieve self-sufficiency in gasoline in 2 or 3 years will nullify the effects of sanctions targeting gasoline imports.

Iran strikes secret nuclear mining deal with Zimbabwe (Daily Telegraph)
The Telegraph reports that Iran has signed a secret deal with Zimbabwe to obtain access to the latter’s uranium deposits in exchange for supplying oil.

Iran’s opposition urges protests on anniversary of disputed election (The National)
Leaders of Iran’s opposition Green Movement are calling reformist groups to file official requests to hold rallies on June 12, the anniversary of last year’s controversial election.

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
“Feb. 11: Victory for regime over Green Movement”
The Iranian regime stifled opposition protests and held large pro-government rallies on February 11, the 31st anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic (Al Jazeera, Informed Comment). The National Iranian American Council liveblogged the day’s developments (NIAC). Juan Cole believes the momentum is “now with the regime” (Informed Comment (2)), while Marc Lynch argues against expecting “regime change from below” in Iran (Marc Lynch).

“Turkey’s balancing act may soon face test on Iran” (Reuters)
Ibon Villelabeitia believes that a UNSC vote on sanctions against Iran will force Turkey to “take sides” on the Iranian nuclear issue despite its efforts to maintain ties with both Iran and the West.

“Serious Play: War Games Explore Options on Iran” (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Jeffrey White and Loring White outline the results of three recent “war games” conducted by US and Western analysts to explore strategies for the Iranian nuclear issue. The authors argue that the results, which uniformly saw Iran undeterred in its nuclear efforts, indicate that the US must strongly support regime change and openly consider a military option.
See also our previous coverage (“Simulation results call for pressuring Iran through diplomacy, not sanctions”)

“Iran claims advancements in uranium enrichment, air defense”
Iran claims to have become a “threshold nuclear state” capable of enriching uranium to any level (MEMRI). Iran also announced it is developing an air defense system more sophisticated than the undelivered Russian S-300 system (Uskowi on Iran, RIA Novosti). The IAEA reportedly considers Iran’s recent enrichment activities, which were conducted in the absence of agency inspectors, as a technical violation of existing agreements (New York Times).

Weekly roundup

Additional articles and reports from the past week
Much Traction from Measured Steps: The Iranian Opposition, the Nuclear Issue, and the West (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Patrick Clawson argues that Western leaders and Iran’s opposition Green Movement should take modest steps toward supporting one another’s interests in order to pressure Tehran on the nuclear issue and human rights.

An Analysis of Multiple Polls of the Iranian Public (World Public Opinion)
World Public Opinion outlines their methodology and explains their conclusions that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection may have been legitimate and that the majority of Iranians, including the majority of supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, do not seek regime change. Their research indicates that support for dialogue and nuclear talks with the US was not limited to Mousavi supporters.

“Opposition hardens line in Iran”
Despite their conciliatory tone in recent weeks, Green Movement leaders issued harsh criticisms of the regime. Mousavi stated that the “roots of tyranny and dictatorship remain” (AFP, New York Times), while Mohammad Khatami called Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s support for a single political faction “a betrayal of Ayatollah Khomeini, the revolution and Islam” (Rooz).

Quadrennial Defense Review and Ballistic Missile Defense Review (US Department of Defense)
The US Department of Defense outlines their perceptions of the Iranian missile threat.