January 4, 2012

Iran News Roundup 01/04

Daylight between Romney and Santorum on war with Iran?
GOP candidate Mitt Romney, responding to Rick Santorum’s rhetoric regarding strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, said that he does not want to threaten any “specific action right now,” in regards to Iran, but endorses military options (Think Progress 01/03).
Santorum has said he would order airstrikes on Iran if the country was going to acquire nuclear weapons, but reasoned to Glen Beck that this was an effort to prevent war (Think Progress 01/04).
Meanwhile, IPS reports that President Obama believes the U.S. could distance itself from Israeli strikes on Iran (IPS 01/03).
And White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the latest threats made by Iran concerning naval operations in the Persian Gulf indicates that “Tehran is under increasing pressure for its continued failure to live up to its international obligations,” and “is isolated and seeking to divert attention from its domestic problems” (The Hill 01/03).
Nuclear rod will not bring Iran closer to nuclear capability
Experts say that Iran’s recent claim that it has developed and tested it’s first nuclear rod will not bring Iran any closer to having atomic bombs (Reuters 01/04).
Meanwhile, a Russian defense official, responding to a series of tests conducted by Ira near the Strait of Hormuz, said that Iran has no long-range missiles (AFP 01/03).
Iranian political activist’s message leaked
A well-known Iranian political activist, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, has recorded a video from inside Iran’s infamous Rajayishahr prison dismissing Iran’s repressive measures aimed at silencing dissent and predicts they will ultimately fail (Rferl 01/03).
Sanctions update
The Wall Street Journal reports that although there are differences over details of the plan, European Union member states have agreed in principle to an oil embargo on Iran (Wall Street Journal 01/04).
South Korea and Japanese officials are analyzing the implications of U.S. moves to toughen sanctions against Iran, with each facing a disruption in their oil imports. Both countries hope to meet with U.S. officials to negotiate over the U.S. sanctions (Wall Street Journal 01/04).
Republican senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) challenged President Obama’s commitment to new sanctions on Iran’s central bank. This is in response to Obama’s statement that if any application of the provisions contained in the sanctions conflicted with his constitutional authorities, he would “treat the provisions as non-binding” Kirk said that the president would be challenging the entire U.S. Senate if he did not fully implement the sanctions. (Reuters 01/03).
Notable opinion: 
In an op-ed for CNN, Geneive Abdo notes that Iran’s recent military exercises are the regime’s attempt to not appear weak in light of increasing pressure from the United States appear to have the upper hand:

But Iran is not begging for a military confrontation. It’s recent aggression is due, in fact, to its fear of a pending military attack. My sources inside the country say the circle of regime insiders around Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei truly believes an attack is inevitable, perhaps even before the U.S. presidential election. Therefore, to save face at home and in the region, Iran’s saber-rattling has reached a fever pitch.
In order not to appear weak in light of the pressure coming from the United States, Iran is determined to show it maintains the upper hand, which it tries to demonstrate through its military exercises, threats and hostile rhetoric. But such behavior, which Iran believes demonstrates its strength and some in the United States view as aggression, should not be misunderstood as Iran provoking the United States to launch a military attack.

To read the full piece click here.
Additional news and opinions:
Payam Karbasi, the spokesman for Corporate Computer Systems of Iran, has hinted that Iranian authorities aim to launch a “clean” national Internet service next month aimed at cutting off Iranian users from the World Wide Web.
The Arms Control Association has issued a report on diplomatic engagement with Iran, arguing that the greatest near term threat is not Iran could acquire a nuclear weapon, but that an unnecessary war could break out.
The Council on Foreign Relations has provided a history of Iran’s nuclear program and poses eight important questions on the issue.
In an op-ed for Foreign Policy, Ali Vaez says Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is responsible for numerous strategic miscalculationsregarding Iran’s domestic and foreign policy.
In an op-ed for The Huffington Post, John Tirman notes that a military attack on Iran would have devastating consequences for America and the opposition movement in Iran.
Iranian-American Shervin Lalezary, a practicing lawyer and a reserve deputy officer, caught the man suspected of lighting 52 fires in Los Angeles since Friday.
CNN has provided a list of the presidential candidate’s policy positions on Iran.

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