December 22, 2011

Iran News Roundup 12/22

Iran’s currency troubles
The Financial Times reports that Iran’s currency has dropped almost 10 percent in recent days, a record low against the U.S. dollar.  While sanctions and economic mismanagement are likely culprits, some Iranian media have accused Ahamdinejad’s government of “engineering a deliberate devaluation to boost the rial value of its oil income in the final months of the fiscal year” to attempt to reduce the budget deficit, which some say could be as high as 7% of GDP (Financial Times 12/21).
Do GOP voters prefer diplomacy over war?
In an op-ed, Scott Clement writes that, although Republican voters see Iran as a threat, more than six in 10 pick “economic and diplomatic efforts” as the best Iran policy rather than military options (Washington Post 12/21).
Ambassador Rice discusses Iran’s nuclear program and diplomacy 
U.S. Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice expressed concern about Iran’s nuclear program during a U.N. Security Council briefing, specifically about the possibility of secret underground enrichment facilities in Iran. In her assessment, the Security Council “must redouble its efforts to implement the sanctions already imposed,” barring weapons and nuclear-related business with Iran in order to buy “more time to resolve this crisis through diplomatic means” (Think Progress 12/21).
Rice also noted, “[S]anctions are only a means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that Iran enters into full compliance with all its international nuclear obligations and takes the steps necessary to resolve outstanding questions” (State Department 12/21).
Iran renews IAEA invitation
The Jerusalem Post reports that Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said Iran has renewed an invitation for an IAEA team to visit the country in January.  He said Iranian officials are willing to discuss the international concerns surrounding Iran’s nuclear program  (Jerusalem Post 12/22).
Iran moves government web sites
On Tuesday, Iran moved most of its government websites from foreign-based hosting companies to facilities inside Iran in order to protect them against cyber attacks (Jersusalem Post 12/20).
Notable opinion: 
In an op-ed in Foreign Policy, Stephen Walt dissects and challenges Matthew Kroenig’s recent Foreign Affairs article arguing for the necessity of a military attack against Iran:

He assumes that Iran is hellbent on getting nuclear weapons (not just a latent capability to produce one quickly if needed) and suggests that it is likely to cross the threshold soon. Never mind that Iran has had a nuclear program for decades and still has no weapon, and that both the 2007 and 2011 National Intelligence Estimates have concluded that there is no conclusive evidence that Iran is pursuing an actual bomb.
He also declares, “With atomic power behind it, Iran could threaten any U.S. political or military initiative in the Middle East with nuclear war.” Huh? If this bizarre fantasy were true, why couldn’t the former Soviet Union do similar things during the Cold War, and why can’t other nuclear powers make similar threats today when they don’t like a particular American initiative? The simple reason is that threatening nuclear war against the United States is not credible unless one is willing to commit national suicide, and even Kroenig concedes that Tehran is not suicidal.
And let’s be crystal clear about what Kroenig is advocating here. He is openly calling for preventive war against Iran, even though the United States has no authorization from the U.N. Security Council, it is not clear that Iran is actively developing nuclear weapons, and Iran has not attacked us or any of our allies — ever. He is therefore openly calling for his country to violate international law.

To read the full piece click here.
Additional Notable News:
British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt welcomed the passage of a UN resolution condemning Iran’s human rights record.
China has cut its oil import from Iran in half for the month of January in an attempt to pressure Iran into selling cheaper oil.
Yesterday, the White House said that Syria’s Assad cannot be trusted and should step down.

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