June 20, 2012

Iran News Update: June 20, 2012

Israeli Action Led to Virus’s Detection

A joint product of U.S. and Israeli intelligence, the Flame computer virus was discovered last month after Israel unilaterally launched a cyberattack on Iran’s oil industry that caught the U.S. “off guard,” according to several US and Western officials (Washington Post 6/19).
Reflecting on Moscow Talks
A senior U.S. official describes Iran’s willingness to engage in the details of a potential agreement as a major outcome of the talks. “We came to Moscow to see if we could get a detailed response to our proposal,” a senior American official told journalists in Moscow after the conclusion of talks Tuesday. “All of that occurred here… Iran for [the] first time responded quite directly to every element of the proposal we put down on the table — quite thoroughly (Al Monitor 6/19).”

Israel’s New Deputy Prime Minister Cautions on Iran
Israel’s new deputy prime minister, Shaul Mofaz, has said, “If we don’t solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the coming years… it is more dangerous to the state of Israel than the Iranian threat’” (Al-Monitor 6/19). A recent addition to Netanyahu’s coalition government, the Iranian-born Mofaz, while acknowledging that military action might be necessary, said, “’We should ask ourselves how much we would delay the Iranian program — for how many months, for how many years — and the second question is what will happen in our region the day after’” (Foreign Policy 6/19).
Oil Markets Prepare Ahead of  Iranian Embargo
Tuesday evening Brent crude prices dipped in part as a result that international negotiations with Iran would continue (Reuters 6/19).
The trading arm of top Asian refiner Sinopec Corp, China’s Unipec, has asked that Iran deliver July-loading crude cargoes to Chinese ports before EU sanctions go into effect on  July 1st (Reuters 9/20).
India’s Bharat Petroleum Corp has made its first payment in rupees for Iranian oil, making it the first refiner to use an alternative payment channel to avoid Western sanctions on the Iranian oil industry (Reuters 6/19).
Notable Opinion –  “The U.S. and Iran’s Mistaken Path to War”
NIAC president Trita Parsi writes that although the talks in Moscow did not breakdown, escalating sanctions will likely lead to dangerous Iranian counter-escalation:

Under normal circumstances, an uneventful diplomatic encounter would hardly get noticed…
That is not the situation between the West and Iran for a very simple reason — the U.S. and the EU are going to significantly escalate the pressure on Iran in the coming weeks. The EU’s oil embargo and U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil sales will formally come into effect at the end of the month. And as unprecedented as these measures are, the U.S. will move shortly thereafter to impose even more sanctions to strangle Iran’s oil exports.
The pattern of the past 10 years clearly shows that when one side escalates, the other side counter-escalates.

Read the full article at Huffington Post

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