Congress Eyes More Sanctions
U.S. lawmakers are seeking to finalize Iran sanctions legislation in July. Senator Menendez said, “‘We’re trying to see if we can get the House either to largely accept what we put through, or to come to what would be a quick staff conference that would lead us to a final conclusion that we could ratify.’” (Reuters 6/27; Reuters 6/27).
Iran Threatens Retaliatory Embargo on South Korea
In response to South Korea’s announcement that it will suspend all oil imports from Iran, Iran has announced that it may put on an embargo on all goods from South Korea. According to the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy, South Korea’s shipments to Iran amounted to $6 billion last year (CNN 6/27; The Korean Times 6/27).
Iraq to Overtake Iran as World’s Second Largest Oil Exporter
Iraq is producing at its highest level in 20 years, and output at 3.07 million bpd in June was just shy of Iran’s 3.1 million bpd. Guy Caruso, an energy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies tells Al-Monitor that there is a danger that Iran might be enticed to sabotage Iraq’s production, saying, “‘One way to get the price up a bit is to create some sort of disruption of Iraqi oil that throws uncertainty into the market.’” (Bloomberg 6/26; Al-Monitor 6/26).
Iranian Vice President Makes Anti-Semitic Speech
In front of a crowd gathered for an anti-drug conference in Tehran, the Iranian vice president, Mohammad-Reza Rahimi delivered an offensively anti-Semitic speech, blaming “Zionists” and the Talmud for the illegal drug trade, in front of a crowd of international diplomats (NYT 6/26).
Notable Opinion: “How to Stop the Lose-Lose Game”
Hossein Mousavian, the former spokesperson for Iran’s nuclear negotiating team and the author of The Iranian Nuclear Crisis, A Memoir, and Mohammad Ali Shabani, a political analyst and the editor of Iran’s leading foreign-policy journal, discuss why the administration shouldn’t be dragging its feet in negotiating with the P5+1 and Iran:
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Bottom line: the Islamic Republic is willing to agree on a face-saving solution that would induce it to give up the cards it has gained over the past years.
Meanwhile, it is becoming increasingly obvious that domestic political considerations are pushing the Obama administration to drag its feet on the negotiations while seeking to keep them alive. This approach allows the White House to remain tough on Iran by not offering any sanctions relief without completely discarding dialogue as an instrument to solve the nuclear issue.
This is a lose-lose game, benefiting none of the involved parties. For the forthcoming talks on July 3, the P5+1 should prepare a comprehensive list of all possible measures guaranteeing that Iran will agree to a maximum level of transparency and cooperation with the IAEA, ensuring that there is no breakout capability and that it will remain a nonnuclear weapon state forever. In exchange, the P5+1 should recognize Iran’s legitimate rights for enrichment and agree to gradually remove sanctions.