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December 12, 2011

Iran News Roundup 12/12

Iraqi PM to discuss Iranian influence after U.S. pullout
Obama is scheduled to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and according to a CBS report, Iran will be one of the major topics of their discussions (CBS 12/12).  The Wall Street Journal reports that Maliki has vowed to prevent Iranian interference in his country.  He added that “If [Iran’s] excuse was that the presence of U.S. troops on Iraqi soil posed a threat to their national security, then this danger is over now” (Wall Street Journal 12/12).
Asian states pulling out of Iran
The NY Times is reporting that Chinese firm, Huawei Technologies, a leading supplier of telecommunications equipment to Iran, has announced that it would voluntarily restrict business in Iran considering the “increasingly complex situation” there.  Huawei is the same company over which concerns have been raised in the past regarding its having provided Iran with equipment that assisted the regime in its crackdown on opposition members (NY Times 12/9).   Additionally, the Wall Street Journal reported, while Japan was resisting new energy sanctions against Iran, that they would be imposing new targeted sanctions, freezing the assets of an additional 106 organizations, one individual and three banks (Wall Street Journal 12/8).
Notable opinion
Tony Karon writes in his op-ed in Time that the current push for crippling sanctions, rather than being an alternative to war, are actually a step towards war.

“Behind the Administration’s hesitation over putting Iran’s economy in a chokehold at this point: it could prove to be a not easily reversible step on the path to confrontation. If such sanctions are adopted as the only alternative to war, as the current debate frames them, their (likely) failure to bring Iran to heel renders armed conflict inevitable — at least as long as the logic that “the only thing worse than bombing Iran is Iran getting the bomb” prevails in the Washington conversation.
Escalation could even happen relatively quickly. Most states would treat an effective economic blockade that imposed “crippling, unendurable pain” as an act of war, and if Iran responds militarily, directly or via proxy forces or terror attacks, the two sides could find themselves quickly locked into potentially disastrous war. Yet, the domestic political dynamic in both Washington and Tehran raises the cost for leaders in both capitals of restraining the momentum towards confrontation.”

To read the full piece click here.
Additional Notable News:
The Christian Science Monitor is reporting that, because the Obama administration does not support an Israeli attack against Iran’s nuclear program, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s ability to launch such an attack has been “curtailed.”
Republicans and Democrats in Congress, according to the Huffington Post, are rejecting Obama administration’s calls for proposed Congressional sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank to provide the President more flexibility.
Another “mysterious” explosion is being reported by the Jerusalem Post to have taken place at a steel factory in Yazd, killing seven people.
Reuters has reporting that the Iranian military has refused to comment on reports that they recently held military exercises practicing the closing of the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil transport point.
Israeli Defense Minister is being reported in the Washington Post to have said that if the Assad regime was to fall that it would be beneficial for the international communities’ ability to place pressure on Iran.
According to an article in the Independent, Iranian President Ahmadinejad had a shoe thrown at him today by an unemployed man as he toured the North of the country.

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