November 21, 2011

Iran News Roundup 11/21

U.K. sanctions Iran’s central bank, U.S. stops just short
The Obama Administration is prepped to announce new sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical industry and against the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) at 4:30pm today (Reuters 11/18) (Reuters 11/21).  These steps would place greater pressure for countries and companies to divest from Iran but stop short of placing complete CBI sanctions that could cause an oil price spike.  Officials say today’s step can ameliorate the risk of increasing oil prices and threaten the U.S. and global economic recovery.  Meanwhile, the U.K. went full bore and sanctioned the CBI, which cuts all ties between British financial and insurance institutions and Iranian banks (BBC 11/21).  Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said Iran does not want to use oil as a “political tool” but will do so if necessary (Bloomberg 11/20).
Political infighting amongst Conservative forces in Iran continues
In the run up to upcoming parliament elections, Ahmadinejad’s press secretary has been sentenced to a year in jail over “publishing materials contrary to Islamic norms”(Washington Post 11/20).  Babak Dehghanpisheh writes that Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei continues to be groomed by Ahmadinejad as his successor, but that Khamenei won’t let this happen (Daily Beast 11/20).
Additional Notable News:
Iran boycotted U.N.’s nuclear talks on a nuclear free zone this week in response to the most recent IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program, a NY Times article reports.
Think Progress reports that (contrary to all evidence) Senator John McCain said the green movement “might be supportive” of an attack to unseat the Iranian regime.
Seyed Hossein Moiusavian, the highest post-revolution former Iranian official in the U.S., says that the West needs to engage Iran and offer to allow Iran to have a purely civilian nuclear enrichment program.
Mohammad Javad Larijani, Secretary General of the High Council for Human Rights of Iran, gave an interview on MSNBC where he rejected the allegations of the IAEA most recent report.
Dozens of CIA personnel may have been arrested in Iran and Lebanon according to a report in Haaretz.
Richard Grenell attacks the Obama Administration in Wall Street Journal for not having as good a record on Iran as George Bush, blaming diplomacy (Grenell Wall Street Journal 11/21).
Ruel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz hint that sanctions can queue up military action on Iran, calling for new sanctions as “an unavoidable and necessary prelude to any more forceful action to stop Ayatollah Khamenei’s nuclear ambitions”(Gerecht and Dubowitz NY Times 11/18).

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