November 29, 2011

Iran News Roundup 11/29

UK Embassy stormed during Basiji student protest
Regime supports, protesting the UK’s most recent sanctions against Iran, broke into the UK embassy in Tehran.  According to a Washington Post article, the attackers threw petrol bombs at the building and committed various acts of vandalism inside the embassy (Washington Post 11/29).   According to a Guardian report, all embassy workers are now safe and accounted for, although Iranian security forces did have to intervene to free six embassy workers surrounded by protestors.  The Guardian also reported that in response to the embassy attacks, Iranian Foreign Minister Salehi has apologized to his British counterpart and called the incident “a very serious failure by the Iranian government” (Guardian 11/29).  The Daily Star reported, in addition to the main British Embassy, a second diplomatic compound was breached by protestors in Northern Tehran (Daily Star 11/28). (To view pictures of today’s events click here.)
Sanctions watch
According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, European Council President said that they are preparing more sanctions against Iran (Jerusalem Post 11/28).  In the U.S., Senators Menendez and Kirk appear to have agreed upon language for an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act, to be voted on this week, that would require the president to sanction the Central Bank of Iran and would expand existing sanctions on Iran’s petroleum industry (Rogin The Cable 11/29).
Doubts continue to be raised about how effective these sanctions will be.  Ron Paul’s congressional website posted a new statement calling sanctions “folly” and recommending instead that the U.S. pursue a free trade policy with Iran to ease tensions and build an economic relationship.  Reuters reported that Iran sanctions are unlikely to work as the regime seems to be willing to accept the costs, and “are entrenching themselves in a siege mentality, ready for a showdown if need be” (Reuters 11/28).
Notable Opinion
Robin Mills writes in the National that no matter what outcome would come from sanctions they will be harmful to the U.S. and its allies.

“These sanctions therefore really have no good outcome for the US. Either they fail, or they hurt America and its allies.
Intensified rhetoric, whether from Tehran, Tel Aviv or Washington, stirs fears of crisis and pushes up oil prices. As long as Iran’s oil exports are not seriously affected, it probably gains more in the “fear premium” than it loses in increased transaction costs. Russia, another strategic competitor to the US, gains both from the current mini-Cold War, and if a hot war does break out.
All these questions on the technical efficacy of sanctions are, of course, secondary to their impotence as tools of policy. Iranian policymakers are unlikely to be swayed by even severe economic damage, sanctions hurt ordinary people while empowering the regime’s most hardline elements, and it is unlikely that Tehran can offer any concessions that will satisfy Washington.
Presumably US policymakers are well-aware of all these issues, suggesting that the latest round of sanctions is intended to provide the White House with political cover against accusations that it is “soft” on Iran”

To read the full piece click here
Additional Notable News:
Washington post has published before and after satellite photos of the Malard missile development base that was the subject of a suspicious explosion on November 12.
Inter Press Service reports that despite sanctions Iranians show a continue willingness to spend money, even on luxury items, regardless of increasing prices.
Their continued to be conflicting reports on the nature of a reported explosion in Isfahan, where Iran’s houses one of its main nuclear facilities, according to a report in the Guardian.

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