December 5, 2011

Iran News Roundup 12/5

Sanctions Watch
The EU is apparently getting cold feet about imposing sanctions to cut off Iranian oil, citing the damage such a measure could have on European economies with little effect on Iran’s.  “Maybe the aim of sanctions is to help Italy, Spain and Greece to collapse and make the EU a smaller club,” jokes a trader citied in the report. (Reuters 12/5)
Reuters reported that Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said that sanctions against Iran have been “exhausted” and that future negotiations should continue resume (Reuters 12/2). On Saturday, Vice President Biden met with Turkish Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdogan, arguing that sustained sanctions on Iran are necessary in order to modify Iran’s behavior and urging Turkey to take similar steps (Wall Street Journal 12/3).  Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Iran’s Foreign Minister warned that any attempts to block Iran’s oil exports would have devastating effects on the world economy (Reuters 12/4).
Escalating covert war?
The National Journal reports on growing evidence of an escalating covert war against Iran (National Journal 12/4).  In the article, NIAC president Trita Parsi warns that the latest tit-for-tat incidents between Iran and the West could provide  “the pretext for a much larger war.”  Concern over escalating tensions came in light of recent explosions inside Iran and Iran’s recent claim that it has shot down a U.S. drone.  U.S. officials acknowledged Sunday that a drone has been lost near Iran’s border (Washington Post 12/4).
In addition, Israeli Defense Minster Ehud Barak said that Iran is getting closer to developing a nuclear weapon, but denied that the latest explosions inside Iran point to a military campaign (Haaretz 12/3). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Sunday about Israeli’s past history of making  “the right decision at the right moment,” even when allies object, implying that Israel would do the same in regards to Iran’s nuclear program (Reuters 12/4).  Meanwhile, Former Senator Bayh, an endorser of military action against Iran, said that an Israeli attack on Iran could lead to a “slippery slope” towards war (Think Progress 12/2).
 Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made some of his strongest comments to date suggesting United States opposition to military strikes against Iran (Jersusalem Post 12/5)  . Panetta, speaking last week at the Brookings Institute, said that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities “must be the last resort” and would “ultimately not destroy their [Iran] ability to produce an atomic weapon, but simply delay it… ultimately it would have a backlash and the regime that is weak now, a regime that is isolated would suddenly be able to reestablish itself..”
 Additional Notable News:
France pulls diplomatic staff out of Iran after attack on the UK embassy, reports the Guardian.
ATP reports that the Iranian regime has begun to distance itself from the UK embassy attack.
The U.N. Human Rights Council condemns Syria’s ongoing abuses against its own citizens, reports Think Progress.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has called on Syrian President Assad to step down, reports Reuters.
The Huffington Post reported on Egypt’s first election since the fall of Hussein Mubarak, which resulted in a 62% voter turnout, the “highest since the time of Pharaohs.”

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