December 29, 2011

Iran News Roundup 12/29

Italy supports oil sanctions
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said that the Italian government supports an oil embargo on Iran, provided certain exceptions are made for the Italian company Eni (Wall Street Journal 12/29).
Russian ambassador warns against Iran conflict
Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations said that a potential conflict between Iran and Western countries poses the “greatest danger” in the next year.
“Our consistent stand, our effort, is going to be targeted at doing whatever we can in order to prevent this scenario of regional catastrophe being carried out in 2012,” he said (RT 12/29).
MEK agrees to transfer 400 residents out of Ashraf
The leadership of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) has agreed to allow 400 of the more than 3,000 residents of Camp Ashraf to be transferred to a former U.S. Army base, where the United Nations will process the residents’ applications for refugee status. (McClatchy Newspapers 12/28).
Amir Hekmati’s mother speaks out

The mother of Amir Hekmati, the Iranian-American held in Iran on charges of espionage, said that her son is under duress and urged Iranian authorities to treat him fairly (Detroit Free Press 12/29).
Investigation casts doubt on lawsuit claiming Iran aided 9/11
An investigation reveals that the recent “findings of fact” by a District judge in Manhattan concluding Iran assisted al-Qaeda in the planning of the 9/11 attacks was based on testimony from anti-Islam activists and  individuals deemed “serial fabricators” by U.S. intelligence officials. The testimony went unchallenged because the Iranian government did not defend itself in court (Truthout 12/29).
Stuxnet computer virus may have four “cousins”
Reuters reports that the Stuxnet computer worm that damaged Iran’s nuclear program in 2010 was likely one of five cyber weapons developed at the same time (Reuters 12/28).  
Notable opinion: 
In an article for CNN, NIAC President Trita Parsi discusses how recent tensions surrounding the Strait of Hormuz is part of the escalating rhetoric between the U.S. and Iran, which could spiral out of control and lead to war:

Such is the logic of pressure politics – pressure begets pressure and along the way, both sides increasingly lose sight of their original endgames. As this conflict-dynamic takes over, the psychological cost of restraint rises, while further escalatory steps appear increasingly logical and justified. At some point – and we may already be there – the governments will no longer control the dynamics. Rather, the conflict dynamic will control the governments.
Though neither side may have intended to drive this towards open war, but rather to merely deter the other side or compel it to change its policies, pressure politics in the absence of real diplomacy has a logic of its own. This formula simply drives us towards confrontation, whether we intend it or not.

To read the full piece click here.
Additional Notable News:
The U.S. has agreed to sell F-15 fighter jets valued at nearly $30 billion to Saudi Arabia, reports The New York Times.

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