Saturday, October 27, 2007

IRAN SANCTIONS : The Coalition of the Only

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Iran President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad and reached a number of agreements involving economic and political affairs.

Of the significant items are listed in the Putin/Ahmadinezhad agreement include :
--- development of oil and gas fields in Iran, including the Southern Pars gas field, and creating in Iran industrial facilities to produce, store and export natural gas.
--- interest in continuing cooperation in the energy sector, including the modernization of thermal and hydro-electric power plants built with Russia's help and the construction of new ones, including the Tabas coal thermal power plant in Iran.
--- the construction and launch of the Bushehr nuclear power plant will be carried out in accordance with the agreed timetable and in full compliance with the requirements of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
--- a contract to supply Iran with five Tu-204-100 aircraft
--- confirming their readiness to expand cooperation with the aim of building a fairer and more democratic world order which would ensure global and regional security and create favourable conditions for stable development. It was stressed that such a world order should be based on collective principles and the supremacy of international law with the United Nations Organization playing a central coordinating role, while any international and regional conflict and crises should be settled in strict compliance with the UN Charter and norms of international law.

On Thursday, October 24, the Bush Administration announced new sanctions (while it needs to be noted that existing sanctions have not worked. )

The Russian / Iran agreement shows why sanctions have not – and will not - work.

If Bush really wanted sanctions that would work, it would not be America announcing the sanctions but instead, it would be in concert with other countries and business enterprises. If the French oil company, Total SA, or the French automaker Renault, or Shell/Royal Dutch, or a consortium of international businesses announced their disapproval of Iran that would mean something.
Why haven’t the Bush Administration pushed “our friends” harder ? It’s all about business.
But this is nothing new. The Clinton Administration failed in its trade sanctions efforts despite a 1996 US law which mandated action against any foreign company that prop up Iranian Government by investing more than $40 million there.

And Russia is not alone in willingness to work with Iran.
Look at recent actions by the two countries that America has combat troops engaged in the Global War on Terror – Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Thursday, October 18th, the New York Times reported that Iran would build and an electric power-generating plant in Sadr City and “also agreed to provide cheap electricity from its own grid to southern Iraq, and to build a large power plant essentially free of charge in an area between the two southern Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf.”
On Saturday, October 20th, Afghanistan hosted the Council of Ministers (COM) of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) meeting at which Afghan President Hamid Karzai emphasized the friendly ties between Iran and Afghanistan (it should be noted that Iran provides financial aid to the Afghanistan government.)

Turkey, UAE and even India have lucrative business interests in Iran.
How ironic it is that Bush announced on July 18,2005 a civil nuclear agreement with India - although it never signed the Non-proliferation Treaty and even developed nuclear weapons. Now, India is facing internal questions regarding supporting America as one of its leading political party is demanding that India not comply with America’s sanctions.

In short, cooperation will be largely symbolic and circumvented by companies and countries.

It’s time America reject politicians that advocate pseudo-punishment of sanctions.
They don’t work and don’t address the real issue.

With Iran, the real issue is nuclear weapons. Iran says it wants nuclear power but not nuclear weapons. We can debate whether Iran’s words are true, but why not – to quote Ronald Reagan – “trust but verify”. Nuclear power is not nuclear weapons. To obtain nuclear weapons, fissile material is needed. Controlling fissile material is essentially the proliferation question. Sadly, the US stands virtually alone in objecting to control of this material. While the world voted overwhelmingly to control fissile material, the US blocked a UN resolution that would have created a verifying body. The vote was 147 to 1 (the USA) with two abstentions. Hence, it is not surprising, that as noted above, that Putin and Ahmadinezhad are pushing for UN involvement.

If they can accept a verification procedure, isn't that a good first step ?

1 comment:

Arab said...

I hope no war is needed, and Iran will not own nuclear weapons.