The Obama administration has imposed sanctions on Iran’s currency for the first time, saying it wanted to make the rial “unusable outside Iran,” in an attempt to further ratchet up the pressure on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear ambitions.
The new measures – the ninth set of sanctions the Obama administration has imposed – also include wide-ranging prohibitions on operating in Iran’s autos sector. They come less than two weeks before Iran holds presidential elections.
“These are significant new sanctions,” said Cliff Kupchan, an Iran analyst for the Eurasia Group, the political risk consultancy. “They’re not on the magnitude of an oil embargo, but they will further rattle Iran’s troubled economy.” Read More
The question is on the lips of many Iranians, who are debating whether Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will bow to pressure from world powers and strike a deal over its nuclear programme.
Iranian usage of the expression dates back to 1988 when the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, finally accepted the UN-brokered ceasefire to end an eight-year war with Iraq – a setback that was, he said, “more deadly than drinking from a poisoned chalice”.
In Tehran, speculation is rife whether history will repeat itself and the supreme leader will alleviate the growing economic strain of international sanctions by bowing to international calls to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Iran is preparing for a new round of negotiations about its disputed nuclear program after the U.S. presidential election determines whether Tehran will face a Republican administration that may have less patience than President Obama’s for long-running efforts to reach a deal, according to diplomats close to the discussions.
Iran has balked at high-level talks since it met with six world powers in June in Moscow. But recently it has signaled that it is ready to resume discussions in November in what could finally determine whether the diplomatic track can resolve a long standoff over the country’s nuclear ambitions.
U.S., Israeli and European officials believe Iran is close to acquiring the ability to make a nuclear bomb, including enough enriched uranium to make one possible. Both the U.S. and Israel have signaled that they could attack Iran’s nuclear infrastructure to prevent it from finally crossing the threshold to having a bomb. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that the world powers would need to halt Tehran by late next spring. Read More
Feuding between the US and Israel burst into the open when Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, sharply criticised recent US statements about Iran while the White House said President Barack Obama would not meet Mr Netanyahu in the US this month.
Mr Netanyahu made a stinging attack on Tuesday on Washington’s refusal to establish a “red line” for Iran’s nuclear programme – a point beyond which US military action against Iran would be taken.
Responding to comments by Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, that the US would not set deadlines for negotiations with the Iranian government, the Israeli leader warned that Iran was getting closer and closer to getting a nuclear bomb. Read More
WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama delivered his most explicit threat yet that the United States will attack Iran if that is what it takes to prevent the Islamic republic from developing a nuclear bomb. At the same time, he warned Israelis they would only make a bad situation worse if they moved pre-emptively against Iranian nuclear facilities.
The double-barreled warning, in an interview published Friday, came before Obama’s high-stakes meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday and a speech Sunday to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful pro-Israeli lobby. Obama said an Israeli strike would stir sympathy for Iran in a region where it has few allies. But he made clearer than before that Iran could face attack from the United States.
“I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say,” Obama told The Atlantic magazine. “I don’t bluff.” Read More
It had been a quiet week in terms of geopolitical developments out of Middle East. Too quiet, well aside for that whole US escalating once again bit, and forcing Iran to eventually go over the edge. And while the role of the US and Iran has been extensively digested in the past few weeks, it is Iran that has remained in the shadows recently. No longer: as Al Arabiya reports, “Israeli officials say they won’t warn the U.S. if they decide to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, according to one U.S. intelligence official familiar with the discussions. The pronouncement, delivered in a series of private, top-level conversations, sets a tense tone ahead of meetings in the coming days at the White House and Capitol Hill. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered the message to a series of top-level U.S. visitors to the country, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House national security adviser and the director of national intelligence, and top U.S. lawmakers, all trying to close the trust gap between Israel and the U.S. over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear ambitions, according to The Associated Press.” Needless to say, the thoroughly effete and comical US foreign policy has no response to follow up queries: “The White House did not respond to requests for comment, and the Pentagon and Office of Director of National Intelligence declined to comment, as did the Israeli Embassy.” And while there may be no comments here, look for more warnings about Israeli citizens being targetted by deranged Iranian around the world. Because when all else fails, fearmonger. Next up: the Status Quo will be telling the world how not attacking Iran would be tantamount to global destruction. The only trade off – will the spike in crude to $150 outdo the surge in Obama’s popularity rating as the Nobel Peace Prize winner puts his name in the hat for a nomination in the Nobel War Prize category as well.
More from Al Arabia, about how Iraq continues to be the case study for an Iranian invasion from Israel’s perspective:
China has criticised the United States for imposing sanctions on a state-run oil firm for exporting petroleum products to Iran, saying the move was “without reason”.
Washington on Thursday slapped sanctions on China’s Zhuhai Zhenrong Co., barring it from doing business in the United States, saying it brokered delivery of more than $500 million worth of gasoline to Iran from July 2010-January 2011.
“We express strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to this,” foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in a statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency late Saturday.
The sanctions, also placed on companies from Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, bar the three firms from receiving US export licenses, trade support from the US Export Import Bank, and loans over $10 million from US financial institutions.
Liu said China’s cooperation with Iran was similar to other countries.
“Like many other countries, China maintains normal cooperation with Iran in energy, economic and trade fields,” he said, adding that the US had acted unilaterally to impose the sanctions.
“This is without reason, and against the content and spirit of resolutions by the United Nations Security Council on the Iran nuclear issue.” Read More
Iran will test-fire two long range missiles on Monday during the last day of naval exercises in the Gulf, a naval commander said, following its threat to halt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz.
“Today we will test-fire Qader and Nour long range missiles during the drill,” deputy navy Commander Mahmoud Mousavi told state TV.
Iran has been holding the 10-day naval exercise at a time of increased tension with Western powers over its nuclear programme, and Mousavi said on Sunday it had successfully test-fired a medium range surface-to-air missile. Read More
Whether it is just posturing or this time Iran feels it has little to lose, following a spate of mysterious explosions and a downedUS attack drone (for those who can put 2 and 2 together), it seems that the oil-rich country is increasingly seeing war as the probable endspiel. YNet reports that Iran is “moving missiles to secret sites, Western officials tell British paper; earlier, Tehran residents reported to stockpile goods, fearing imminent strike.The commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards has ordered his forces to raise their operational readiness ahead of a possible war or strike on the country’s nuclear facilities, the Telegraph reported late Monday.” The move is for now precautionary: “The British newspaper quoted Western intelligence sources as saying that Iran is repositioning ballistic missiles, explosives and troops into defensive positions, in order to offer a quick response in the case of an attack by Israel or the United States.” And while all this is happening, Iran is busy shipping of the downed US drone to the highest regional bidder (with substantial reverse engineering skills).
According to the report, Revolutionary Guards Commander Mohammed Ali Jaafari directed his forces to deploy Iran’s long-range missiles at secret sites nationwide. Meanwhile, the country’s air force has reportedly set up “rapid reaction units” that would respond to aerial assaults. Read More
While we are looking for the full IAEA report blasting Iran and specifically its nuclear program, claiming that Iran carried out work relevant for developing nuclear arms according to a UN report citing ‘credible’ info, as well as having information of activities in Iran specific to nuclear weapons, we already know what Iran’s response is to any potential ‘provocations’ from Israel. To wit: “We’ll show you ‘hell’” UPI explains: “Israel will learn the true meaning of “hell” if it decides a military strike against Iran is worth the risk, an Iranian national security official said. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is said to have been reviewing strike plans against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure as the International Atomic Energy Agency expressed concerns about Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Iranian officials have said any attack on its nuclear infrastructure would be suicidal.” And the soundbites keep getting better: “If a military challenge is started against Iran in the region, the Zionist regime will definitely be faced with a hell,” Javad Jahangirzadeh, a lawmaker on Iran’s national security commission, told the semiofficial Fars News Agency.” Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in a Tuesday interview with Israel Radio, said Israel doesn’t want war. If dragged into conflict, he said, the casualties would be low. “Israel is the strongest country in the region and it will stay that way,” he added.” And while a few weeks or even days ago, the outcome of this event would have been easily predictable, following the just announced “microphone” gaffe involving Sarkozy, Obama and Netanyahu, suddenly the odds are far more interesting. Regardless, at this point, aside from concluding that Keynesians everywhere must be rejoicing at the imminent GDP boost driven by the military-industrial complex, we can also venture to gamble: short glass manufacturers. In a few months there may be a natural glut.