P5+1 Talks to Continue
Technical-level talks in Istanbul between the P5+1 and Iran ended early Wednesday, saying that talks would resume between the deputies of lead negotiators at an unspecified later date (NYT 7/5).
In a new document, presented to Iran experts by Iran’s mission to the UN, which includes transcriptional excerpts, both parties seem interested in continuing negotiations until after the November 4th election day. The text prioritizes sanctions relief, and an interest in setting the framework for “comprehensive and targeted dialogue for long term cooperation” that goes beyond the nuclear issue, reports Laura Rozen. (Al-Monitor 7/4).
If US Attacks, Iran Claims to Have Contingency Plans to Attack American Bases
Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency quoted the air force commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps claiming he has contingency plans to attack 35 American bases across the Middle East, as well as Israel, within minutes of the start of a conflict (NYT 7/5; Reuters 7/4).
Ahmadinejad: “Most Severe and Strictest Sanctions Ever”
On Tuesday Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, “The sanctions imposed on our country are the most severe and strictest sanctions ever imposed on a country.” He added, “But the enemies’ assumption that they can put Iran in a weak position through these sanctions is false and is the result of their materialistic calculations,” suggesting the sanctions would not affect Iran’s nuclear activities (NYT 7/3).
Iranian Parliament Approves of Nuclear-Powered Fleet
An Iranian parliamentary committee has approved a plan calling for a nuclear-powered commercial fleet of oceangoing tankers and ship, which would require weapons-grade uranium enrichment, well above Iran’s current 20 percent ceiling (NYT 7/3).
South Korea Struggles to Cover Oil Shortages
South Korea stopped importing Iranian oil as of July 1st, but the country is struggling to cover the resulting shortages and is considering using Iranian tankers to receive future shipments. The official added, “[We’ll] see how India goes about this,” (WSJ 7/4).
Iranian July Exports Expected to Nearly Halve
Iran will export a maximum of 1.1 million bpd, although continued contract disputes with China and indications of long-term structural changes in the Chinese economy could push exports lower. Iran averaged 2.2 million bpd in 2011, meaning exports this July will be almost half of what they were in July of 2011. Iran is expected to lose $3.4 billion in revenue in July.
Iranian output remains at 2.95 million bpd, its lowest output in nearly a quarter of a century (Reuters 7/5; The White House 6/28).
India Receives Oil via Iranian Tankers, Avoids Breaching Insurance Sanctions
India has begun receiving Iranian crude on tankers owned and insured by the Islamic Republic to avoid sanctions. Hindustan Petroleum has received a shipment via the MT Clove, a National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) Suezmax tanker, and a second Suezmax shipment is already scheduled.
India is reportedly using Euros to clear most of its purchases of Iranian oil through a Turkish bank because of problems in arranging payments in rupees (Reuters 7/5; Bloomberg 7/5).
UN Agency Investigated for Sanctions Violations
The US has announced it is reviewing the activities of the Geneva-based United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), after correspondence between WIPO and the Iranian agency for intellectual property from August of 2010 surfaced, suggesting WIPO had supplied IT equipment to the Islamic Republic (Reuters 7/4).
Tanzanian Government Reviews Berman’s Concerns
Following accusations from US House Committee Chairman Howard Berman that NITC tankers were flying Tanzanian flags to use international ports, Tanzanian Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe told reporters that, “if it is confirmed that the ships flying Tanzania’s flag are indeed from Iran, we will take steps to deliberately obliterate the registration” (Reuters 7/5).
Japan Will Resume Imports of Iranian Crude in August
Japan will not import Iranian crude in July, due to E.U sanctions, but will resume imports in August by issuing sovereign guarantees on shipments of oil from Iran. The temporarily removal of Japan from export markets, coupled with South Korea’s withdrawal, will cost Iran $750 million in July at current oil prices (Reuters 7/4).
Swiss Widen Sanctions Against Iran
The Swiss government will not implement a European Union ban on Iranian oil, but it will widen sanctions, to include restrictions on petrochemicals, telecommunications, and precious metals and diamonds (Reuters 7/5).
Iranian Buyout Could Save French Refinery
A private Iranian company, Tadbir Energy Development Group, has offered to take over a French refinery, Petit-Couronne, to avoid its shutdown, juxtaposing France’s domestic economic agenda and its desire to put pressure on Tehran. (WSJ 7/4).
Kenya Cancels Agreement for Iranian Oil
On Wednesday, Kenya cancelled an agreement to import 4 million tons of Iranian crude oil per year because of sanctions. “There is an embargo on Iranian oil. We don’t want to get involved in the intricacies of international inter-governmental issues,” said Patrick Nyoike, permanent secretary in the Kenyan energy ministry (Reuters 7/5).
Notable Opinion: “Nuclear Brinksmanship with Iran”
Reza Marashi discusses the very real dangers of politically-motivated brinksmanship in Washington:
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To the credit of Washington and Tehran, their public-relations departments have done a masterful job spinning just how badly the negotiations in Moscow went. Privately, however, officials from both sides concede that a breakdown in the talks occurred largely because the United States moved the goalposts—again. And an honest assessment indicates that political factors drove Washington to back away from a deal.
While there is always concern about whether Tehran will live up to its end of a bargain, numerous P5+1 officials have acknowledged that the Iranians have focused their bottom line on uranium enrichment at the 3.5 percent level and sanctions relief. At present, Iran’s enrichment of uranium to the 20 percent level; its corresponding stockpile; and its underground Fordo nuclear facility all are fair game—for the right price.