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Future Outlook of Iran Sanctions

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dr. Seyed Hossein Mousavi
President of the Center for Scientific Research and Middle East Strategic Studies

Active ImageBefore more sanctions were imposed on Iran either through the UN Security Council or unilaterally, western countries led by the United States, claimed that they were just trying to make the Iranian leaders to get back to negotiations. Since the sanctions have entered into force, both the American and European leaders have frequently noted that sanctions are mainly meant to bring Tehran back to the negotiating table. All these claims imply that the Iranian leaders are not willing to take part in negotiations. The question is if the Iranian leaders are not actually willing to go on with negations, why they have been already engaged in few rounds of political talks at Sa'dabad (under former president, Khatami) and recent negotiations on the exchange of nuclear fuel (which led to promulgation of Tehran Declaration by Iran, Turkey and Brazil)?

As everybody knows, early negotiations under Khatami had led to voluntary suspension of all enrichment activities for a period of 18 months. Later negotiations indicated Iran’s readiness to swap enriched uranium for the nuclear fuel to be supplied by the Vienna Group as an act of goodwill subsequent to what is known as Tehran trilateral agreement. Therefore, what western countries actually mean by “nuclear negotiations”? If they mean that Iran should completely give in to west’s demands, this cannot be called “negotiation” under the common definition of diplomatic relations, but would be construed “submissiveness” as no country with an independent, sovereign state will be ready to accept demands put forth by western countries.

All evidence shows that Iran is right in its distrust toward the west and to call for participation of other, trustworthy, parties in nuclear negotiations. Bringing Turkey and Brazil (both enjoying cordial relations with Washington) into the equation was simply done to increase Iran’s trust in negotiations. It would suffice for leaders of the western countries to pay attention to Iran’s concerns and pave the way for the success of the nuclear negotiations. Therefore, the west’s allegations about having imposed new sanctions just to make Iran accept further negotiations are baseless and illogical.
In parallel to new sanctions, military threats against Iran have been soaring in an unprecedented manner which clearly prove that Iran’s nuclear capabilities, especially its ability to build nuclear weapons, is now just second in importance. In other words, military threats are aimed at restoring traditional balance of powers in the Middle East (which has been in favor of Israel for many decades) because a great part of those threats target Iran’s missile capability proving that the United States is concerned about the current balance of powers to turn against Israel.

Washington’s concern is, of course, understandable as the United States has done its best since October 1973 Arab-Israeli war to arm its main Middle Eastern ally and keep it on top of all regional armies. Now, after seven years of military occupation in Iraq, many American and Israeli officials have admitted that attacking Iraq was mostly meant to reverse the balance of regional power in favor of Israel and to punish countries which may have dreamt of disturbing that balance. It also seems that Iran’s nuclear program, as currently referred to in the American political jargon, is a codename for a military power which can disturb the existing power balance in the Middle East. This is why most western officials expressing viewpoints on the imaginary threat posed by Iran, directly refer to the country’s missile capabilities. Measures taken by Israel in the past two years are enough to dispel any doubts in this regard because Tel Aviv has been implementing extensive plans in those years to beef up its anti-missile defense system. They have even staging maneuvers in the Israeli cities on how to handle the aftermath of a missile hit by distributing special masks and manage possible injuries and have also tested missile attack alarm systems. All those programs show that Israel is planning on how to counteract Iran’s military reaction to an Israeli air raid on its vital military centers.

It seems that the Zionist lobby in the United States and the European countries has increased its pressures to unprecedented levels in the past few months. Israel has put Iran’s nuclear program on the top of its agenda and it is a regular topic in Israeli officials’ meetings with other world leaders. Zionist pressures have been more effective in the United States as Jews have unrivaled control on the US Congress, Senate and many other key political, economic and military institutions of the United States. This will help us to decode US military threats against Iran because it seems that due to active involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lately in Pakistan, Washington is not ready to accept more military risks. Obama had also promised in his election hustings that he would try to get the United States free from two futile military missions. However, all analysts maintain that US presidents are not able to withstand tremendous pressures from the Zionist lobby. If Obama’s gradual withdrawal from his early position on peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis were studied carefully, the above proposition would appear more correct. Therefore, it seems that recourse to military threat in the face of Iran’s nuclear program is just a means to assuage Israeli officials and prevent them from taking unilateral action against Iran which would inevitably draw all western states into the vortex of a full-blown military faceoff with Tehran. US officials have frequently noted in the past few weeks that Iran sanctions have been quite effective. These remarks have been meant to make the Israeli officials distance from a military option against Iran and allow for sanctions mechanism to achieve its predetermined goals.

Although the west has surrounded Iran sanctions with much ado, there are tangible signs to connote that they will not be as effective as originally thought to be. Thus far, no country has inspected any Iranian ship or airplane on ground of those sanctions. Many western analysts had asserted right after adoption of the latest version of the Security Council sanctions that the Iranian ships and planes would be exposed to unprecedented inspections following the adoption of Resolution 1929. Not a single instance of such inspection has occurred thus far. Big countries like UK, US, or France have not taken any provocative action even for maneuvering purposes. That cautions behavior does not simply mean that no suspicious cargo has been ever discovered onboard the Iranian ships and planes, or the western countries have tried to put a cap on such discoveries, but it means that they are wary of the consequences of such acts. According to the latest statistics, about 85 percent of all the ships in the world cross the Strait of Hormuz, at least, one or several times a year. In addition, Iran’s air transit is of high importance to many airlines in the world.

From a strategic viewpoint, Iran is wedged between two regional sources of crisis; that is, Afghanistan in the east and Iraq in the west and southwest. Iran’s security is of high importance to many countries, especially those whose troops are currently posted in Iraq. Therefore, any uncalculated and unsound measure against the Iranian ships or planes will have serious consequences. Many countries have also officially or unofficially refrained from complying with the Security Council’s sanctions against Iran’s oil products. In some instances, total volume of those countries’ trade with Iran has even increased in the wake of the Security Council sanctions compared to previous years. Meanwhile, other countries (though geographically distant from Iran) have increased trade cooperation with Tehran. Some countries have replaced Iran’s previously big trade partners. On the whole, it seems that new developments in the coming weeks or months, especially after resumption of nuclear negotiations with 5+1, will be in Iran’s favor.

It is noteworthy that when compliance with sanctions may have untoward consequences for compliant countries, how devastating participation in an overt military scenario against Iran’s vital installations may be for participating or attacking countries or even for those states that may have encouraged the attack.

Source: Center for Scientific Research and Middle East Strategic Studies
http://www.fa.merc.ir/
Translated By: Iran Review

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