Turkey, Brazil Come out against new Iran sanctions at Security Summit

Presidnt Obama’s nuclear security summit scored an early victory on Monday, since Obama was able to announce that Ukraine would give up its stock of high enriched uranium by 2012. Ukraine kept some of the high enriched uranium (HEU) from Russian warheads on its territory. The US has generally been successful in convincing former Soviet states other than Russia to give up stockpiles of HEU (uranium enriched to over 20%).

But it should be remembered that Ukraine is not a great Power, and is sandwiched uneasily between the Russian Federation and the European Union. Ukraine would like to join the EU. It has the prospect of further US economic aid. And it wants to avoid falling back under Russian control. Its best shot at relative independence and economic growth is cooperation with the West.

In contrast, Iran is not being so forthcoming. It is not afraid of any third party, the way the Ukraine fears Russia. It does not have to rush into the arms of the US and the EU to guarantee its independence. Indeed, Tehran has very bad memories of European and American political dominance.

Its nuclear enrichment program (there is no evidence of a weapons program) is intended to warn the great powers off any further meddling in Iran.

On Iran, the picture for Obama was far more mixed. Turkey announced itself firmly against ratcheting up sanctions on Iran. This stance matters because Turkey is a non-permanent member of the UNSC. Likewise Brazil currently has a seat, and its goverment, as well, has just announced opposition to further Iran sanctions.

And while China may have softened slightly on the issue of sanctions on Iran to deter it from pursuing nuclear enrichment, Beijing is unlikely to sign on to what Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called ‘crippling sanctions.’

Meanwhile, Iran took strong exception to the new Obama security doctrine that appeared to leave open the possibility of a US attack on Iran. Tehran is approaching the UN for a resolution condemning the US.

Obama needs a Ukraine-style breakthrough if his Iran policy is to bear fruit. The trick would be in convincing Iran’s ruling clerics that they would have more independence, not less, without the nuclear research program.

But apparently that would be too big a carrot for Washington to offer.

Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Responses | Print |

17 Responses

  1. Dr. Cole:

    First, congratulations on a very nice looking new blog template. Hopefully the new server situations serves you well for a long time.

    The United States does not understand why Iran’s 1978 foreign policy was distasteful to Iranians. Just as it does not fully understand how unpopular Mubarak’s foreign policy is, the degree to which holding Egypt to its current foreign policy contradicts any notion of democracy or popular sovereignty. An inability to see past the idea that there must be a dominant Jewish-majority state in Palestine really skews US views on the Middle East.

    So the US is not able to offer any significant incentives to Iran just to give up the “Japan option” it is developing because if it gave Iran incentives to give up the nuclear issue, it would have no incentives left to pressure Iran to return to its 1978 foreign policy relative to Israel – which is the more important US/Israeli goal.

    Instead Obama’s strategy is to make the status quo as bad for Iran as possible and then wait. Eventually Iran may cave. The problem with that strategy is that in the meantime the US and Iran are unnecessarily hostile and this hostility will result in lost opportunities for cooperation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    It is a costly strategy, but if the US is to remain in its role as Israel’s guarantor, it does not have any better options.

  2. Iran has already long ago offered to place severe restrictions on its nuclear enrichment program, and operate the program as a multinational effort, thus ensuring that it can’t be used to secretly make bombs. They’ve even offered to only produce sufficient enriched uranium as required by their reactor fuel needs, and to immediately covert the enriched uranium into fuel rods so none can be used to make bombs. These and other Iranian compromise proposals (See link to nytimes.com ) would have addressed any legitimate fear of nuclear weapons proliferation by Iran — have been simply ignored by the US, thus proving that the entire nuclear conflict with Iran is a deliberately manufactured pretext just as “WMDs in Iraq” was a pretext.

  3. professor, please help me settle a debate with a colleague…what is the correct way to pronounce Mosul?

  4. But apparently that would be too big a carrot for Washington to offer.

    Nobody knows exactly what such a “carrot” would be. Full diplomatic recognition and an end to the US sanctions (both of which I’m in favor of)? Money? It’s tricky to do this, particularly since the “cleric”-side of the government benefits from US pressure in terms of politics.

    It’s a side-comment, but I love the format of this site now. It’s been a while since I’ve been here, but the old format was a major turn-off to reading it.

  5. Last night on CNN, I saw an ad that bowled me over. You see a US combat veteran saying something like this: Enriched uranium can pierce US armor. Iranians enrich uranium. Therefore the Iranians are killing US soldiers in Iraq. The ad was a veiled appeal to bomb and possibly invade Iran. Now who the hell is paying for that, because it sure felt Likud-sponsored?

  6. It’s just amazing, but true, that even in this weblog ( and by the way the new format is much, much better!) which is by far one of the most informed and enlightened ones, if not THE MOST… there is not a single reference of popular protest movements in Iran. Belive it or not there is actually an active Peace movementin Iran, and we/they are opposed to both external intervention , and also internal reaction ( including development of Nuclear technology,…), notice numerous public reactions, in response to Abalahi nejad’s speechs about nuclear power, pointing out to the lack of basic food staples, and social neccessities!
    Lets just say as much as Shah was successful in maintaing his rule by sheer violence, and having the largest ( and most powerful!!!) armed forces in middle east, thugs of Islamic Reaction will be successful in staying in power through resorting to nuclear option, and striking a deal with the West.
    As the old saying goes you might be able to rule by bayonets, but not on bayonets!

    • Basic necessities include power, and Iran has long been in desperate need of diversifying its power resources to include nuclear power, which the US encouraged Iran to develop in the first place. Those “peace activitists” who are opposed to Iranian nuclear energy had better get a clue.

  7. The information about Ukraine is dated and wrong. The current government of Ukraine is not frightened of Russia. The support for the “western leader” in the last Ukrainian election was 5%.

    The west, and the US, misplayed Ukraine very badly.

    To think that the majority of Ukrainians are worried about the rise of Russia is just…. well, inaccurate. What both Russians and Ukrainians want is a strong economy, national sovereignty, reasonable freedoms. They think the US, working under the Washington Consensus and with the IMF, works against that.

  8. “The trick would be in convincing Iran’s ruling clerics that they would have more independence, not less, without the nuclear research program. ”

    Why should any independent country give up its research program?!!

    This line of thinking is inconsistent with the many informed articles you have written.

    You should know very well that this whole charade is not about enrichment.

    Neither the Green movement nor any future indigenous democracy in Iran would be willing to give up their right to research in any arena — as it should be.

  9. Iran has the second largest natural gas reseves in the world, not to mention all the oil wealth not to mention incredibly abundant geographical resources for all kinds of renewable sources of energy. And it’s not only the “peace activists” who oppose nuclear power for Islamic Reaction, but also abor activists, student activists, women activists, … just read their public resoultions for the past five years to get an idea what you’re dealing with. As far as getting a ” clue” it would help to also pay attention to the real exsiting contemporary social movements in Iran , and not becoming uninformed mouth pieces of Intelligence Ministry!

    • Accusing people right and left of being ‘mouthpieces of the Intelligence Ministry’ is a worn tactic. The fact is that Iran is in need of diversified energy resources, and even Iran’s large gas deposits will not suffice. I suggest you read up on the facts before attributing your own views to Iranian activisits:

      Iran’s strong case for nuclear power is obscured by UN sanctions and geopolitics
      Author: David Wood
      Journal: Atoms for Peace: an International Journal
      2007 – Vol. 1, No.4 pp. 287 – 300

      Abstract: Rapid growth in Iran’s domestic energy demand and its dependence on oil exports for revenue has forced it to consider alternative future energy solutions…

      Iran’s Nuclear Power Ambitions Bolstered by Petroleum Geopolitics
      Energy Tribune, Dec. 11, 2006
      [G]iven Iran’s ongoing energy struggles, it makes sense, both economically and from an energy point of view, for the country to be pursuing nuclear power. Why? Iran simply doesn’t have enough gas production to increase its electricity production in the short term. It does, however, have a surfeit of uranium.

      Past Arguments Don’t Square With Current Iran Policy
      By Dafna Linzer
      Washington Post Sunday, March 27, 2005

      The fuel behind Iran’s nuclear drive
      By David Isenberg
      Asia Times Aug 24, 2005

      Forced to Fuel by M Sahami
      Harvard Int’l Law Review,
      Vol. 26 No. 4 – Winter 2005

      Blasts from the Past: Western Support for Iran’s
      Nuclear program
      Iran Affairs May 30 2007

      Iran actually is short of oil
      by Roger Stern
      International Herald Tribune January 8, 2007

      Energy : Iran needs nuclear power
      By Mohammad Sahimi, Pirouz Mojtahed-Zadeh and Kaveh L.
      Afrasiabi
      International Herald Tribune
      Published: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2003

      Is Iran Building Nukes? An Economic Analysisby William O. Beeman and Thomas Stauffer (and Part 2)
      Pacific News Service, Jun 26, 2003

  10. During the 1979 revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the faithful not to pay their utility bills to the Shah’s government. It was another clever move by the exiled cleric which pushed the Shah’s administration further towards bankruptcy.

    Three decades later, those who pioneered the revolution are themselves facing a revolution which uses some of the same methods used thirty years ago like chanting ‘God is Great’ from the roof tops. In response to the iron fist shown by the establishment against those who take part in street demonstrations, people are trying to resort to other civil disobedience protest methods which inflict damage on the regime but carry less danger for them. Not paying the utility bills can be one such method, of course there are also many who just can’t make ends meet and pay the bills too, and so here is the Supreme Leader’s latest Fatwa on those who are not paying their water bills:

    ‘Refusing to pay the water bills is not allowed and those who perform their ablution with such water will therefore make their rituals void’

    Four other high ranking clerics including Messbah Yazdi, Mohammad Yazdi, Nouri Hamedani and Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi who has a representative office in Harrow Road, London have also issued similar fatwas.
    link to iislamic.org

    Here is the real irony however. Ayatollah Khomeini in his first speech after return form exile in the Behesht Zahra cemetery, promised ‘We will make water, electricity, buses and so forth free of charge, we have so much income from the oil why should our people have to pay for these things?’
    link to dw-world.de,,5441998,00.html

  11. As a matter of fact all May 1st events for the past five years in Iran have had specific demands opposing war and nuclear power, specifically stating ‘nuclear energy NOT as a national propority,’ in addition various students events from Tehran university to everyother part of the country similariy have expressed opposition to the nuclear program, it would take too many pages here to give a full documentation but if you could read persian you ought to check out their sites and inform you self, also the women’s movement and revolutionary movement in Kurdestan have long been critics of war, and nuclear program. In the past five years contemporary Iranian social movements have indeed expereinced a resurgence, revival and a renissance, a very bloody, bloody one at that but a rebirth nonetheless.
    The sources Mr/Ms hass mentions actually includes “experts” who have participated in events organized by the intelligence ministry, and related agencies, institutuions and individuals. It would be helpful to keep in mind that all true activsts in Iran are now either incarcerrated, being tortured, or at best are under extreme harrasment and intimidation.

  12. Mohammad Khatami
    Ex-president banned from travel

    BBC: Iran’s former president has been barred from leaving the country, reports say. Mohammad Khatami was expected to attend a nuclear disarmament conference in Japan, but his aides say he was banned from travelling. Organisers of the meeting in Hiroshima have confirmed that he cancelled his appearance at the last minute. Mr Khatami has been under steady pressure from the Iranian government following the disputed presidential election in June last year >>>

    link to news.bbc.co.uk

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