Shorter Range Missiles in the Persian Gulf
In an apparent escalation in Iran’s standoff with the West, a Revolutionary Guards commander was quoted as saying Iran expects to equip its ships in the Strait of Hormuz with shorter-range missiles (Reuters 6/29).
Dubai’s ENOC Affected by State Department Clarification
U.S. State Department officials have clarified that financial transactions that facilitate the import of Iranian “condensate”, a production material Dubai’s national oil company depends on, makes the UAE liable under the US sanctions that go into effect on June 28th. As a result, two sources close to the company said Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) had already applied for a waiver to avoid US sanctions (Reuters 6/29).
Iran Offers to Deliver South Korea Oil
Less than a day after Iran threatened “reconsideration of its ties” with South Korea in response to an announcement by the country that it would stop purchases of Iranian oil, Iran has come forward to offer to deliver its oil to South Korea on its own ships (Reuters 6/28; Reuters 6/29).
Continued Signs of Rivalry within OPEC
Despite agreeing on June 14th to cap OPEC production at 30 million bpd, OPEC members are producing 1.63 million bpd above that, while Iran’s production slipped in June down 180,000 bpd to 2.95 million, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Saudi Arabia increased its production the most.
At an energy conference in London, the Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, commented on the changing dynamics of OPEC saying, “‘The wealth for Iraq, the oil, is going to create more competition – definitely with the Saudis’” (Reuters 6/29).
Chinese Waiver seen as “Goodwill Gesture”
An exemption from US sanctions on the importation of Iranian oil that was provided to China yesterday has been explained partially as a “goodwill gesture”. “‘This saved both sides from an ugly test,’” said Shi Yinhong, an expert on US-China relations at Renmin University in Beijing (WSJ 6/29).
Delayed Assad Interview Thanks Iran
In taped interview, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad thanks Iran for being one of the “wise governments” seeking to protect stability in Syria. Iran, Syria’s only remaining ally in the region, had delayed, for unknown reasons, broadcasting the interview (NYT 6/28).
Russians Disagree with US on Iran, Syria
The Russian Foreign Ministry has said of talks in Geneva on Syria and Iran, “‘The Russian proposal on this has met unsurmountable objections from the U.S. side, especially on the part concerning Iran.’” The statement was made public “shortly before a dinner in St. Petersburg at which U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was expected to try to persuade Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Moscow should agree to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s departure” (Reuters 6/29).
Turkish Imports Drop Ahead of EU Sanctions
In line with Turkey’s pledge to cut imports of Iranian oil by about a fifth from its annual average, Ankara reports its imports from Iran have dropped by more than 35 percent in May from April, as it attempts to convince the US to waive sanctions on it imports of Iranian oil (Reuters 6/29).
Notable Analysis: “Iran sanctions will halve oil sales but may still not succeed”
The Guardian’s Julian Borger and Saeed Kamali Dehghan discuss why Western powers are hesitant to put sanctions on the table and why Iran might need them to negotiate productively:
Saeed Jalili, the chief Iranian negotiator, demanded concessions that included recognition of the right to enrich uranium and a lifting of all sanctions. He was ambiguous over whether Tehran was offering a permanent halt to 20% enrichment. In the course of two days of discussions neither side showed any readiness to make further concessions.
“I think the [western powers] are scared of putting sanctions on the table and use them as bargaining chips because that would risk undermining the basis for sanctions themselves. They would lose their original purpose, which was to force a suspension of all enrichment,” Joshi said.
But he said that by not putting sanctions on the table their power as a policy tool had not been properly tested. “It would have made headlines – if the west had made that offer and Iran still remained silent. It seems to be a missed opportunity.”
Read the full article at The Guardian
Notable Opinion: “U.S. Hawks Aflutter as Clinton Clears China on Iran Oil Sales”
Jim Lobe discusses why some conservatives aren’t satisfied with Obama’s comprehensive sanctions regime:
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Despite the escalating impact of sanctions on Iran’s economy, however, many analysts, notably neo-conservatives and other hawks who had led the drive for “crippling” sanctions, now believe that the strategy is not working and that the Iranian regime can withstand the pain the sanctions are inflicting.
In testimony last week, two members of a hawkish task force from the Bipartisan Policy Council (BPC) testified before Congress that Washington should be building up its military forces around Iran to make the threat of a military strike more credible, a position echoed in a letter sent by 44 senators to Obama on the eve of the Moscow talks.
At the same time, the neo-conservative Weekly Standard, a major promoter of the Iraq War, called for Congress to approve an “Authorization of Military Force” to halt Iran’s nuclear program, similar to the one approved by Congress five months before the Iraq invasion.