Archive for the ‘sanctions’ Category

Iran Boasts of Nuclear, Space Progress Despite Sanctions

February 7, 2009

Iran has achieved breakthroughs in nuclear and space technology despite international sanctions against it, the country’s top leader said Saturday.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told military commanders that instead of weakening Iran, sanctions by the U.S., the U.N. and others have forced it to become more self-reliant, leading to greater strides by Iranian scientists and to technological advancements unseen in the country’s history.

Iranian leaders often boast of technological progress as they seek to assure their people that sanctions and isolation have not hurt the country, even as unemployment and inflation increase.

Most recently, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Tuesday the launch of Iran’s first domestically produced satellite. He faces a tough re-election battle this year, not least because of the economic woes brought on by falling oil prices and sanctions.

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer

The United States imposed sanctions against Iran soon after its 1979 Islamic revolution, which toppled the U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and brought hard-line clerics to power. The sanctions banned the export of any dual-use technology, including nuclear, space and missile equipment. Over the years, Washington has tightened sanctions against any investment in Iran.

Since 2006, Iran has also been under U.N. Security Council sanctions, applied to its nuclear and missile industries, for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants or the material for atomic bombs.

The United States and some of its allies have accused Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charge, saying its nuclear program is geared towards generating electricity, not weapons production.

Vice President Joe Biden told a security conference in Germany that the U.S. was willing to talk to Iran but would act to isolate and pressure the country if it does not scrap parts of its nuclear program.

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Iran May Be Obama’s Biggest Challenge, No Pakistan, No Hamas and Israel

January 7, 2009

Israel and militant Palestinians are locked in deadly battle in the Middle East, but Iran poses the biggest challenge in the region to the incoming Obama administration, President George W. Bush‘s national security adviser says.

At the same time, the Mideast offers President-elect Barack Obama the greatest opportunity to put his imprint on world affairs, Stephen Hadley said, referring to the need for a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace accord that eluded both Bush and former President Bill Clinton.

Outside the Mideast, it is Pakistan that should command Obama’s keen attention, said Hadley, who has been senior foreign policy adviser to the president for eight years.


Hadley, who is always in the shadows and rarely seen by the public, discussed Bush’s two terms and the international challenges — ones he says will not pause for America’s transfer of power in January — during a nearly hourlong interview Tuesday with The Associated Press in his West Wing office. He was also delivering a speech Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He said the Taliban remains a serious threat in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is getting ready to dispatch at least 20,000 extra troops.

“Its fighters have found safe haven across the border in Pakistan, and if the extremists succeed in destabilizing Pakistan, the chaos will threaten peace and progress throughout the region,” he says in remarks prepared for Wednesday. “Stabilizing Pakistan must be the first priority for the new administration.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

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Arab Nations Enraged At U.S. On Gaza, Palestinian Deaths

January 4, 2009

“It’s clearly the Americans, it doesn’t require genius,” he said, adding that the US had blocked a resolution because “the Israelis still need some time to finish their operations.”


Israel’s ground offensive in the Gaza Strip was roundly condemned across the Middle East on Sunday, with Egypt also accusing the UN Security Council of failing to act quickly to resolve the crisis.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said Israel’s incursion into the impoverished territory on Saturday night came in “brazen defiance” of international calls to end the fighting.

“The Security Council‘s silence and its failure to take a decision to stop Israel’s aggression since it began was interpreted by Israel as a green light,” he said in a statement as Israeli forces rumbled into Gaza.

By Samer al-Atrush, AFP

Palestinian demonstrators chant slogans during a demonstration ... 

Above: Palestinian demonstrators chant slogans during a demonstration in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Israel’s ground offensive in the Gaza Strip was roundly condemned across the Middle East, with Egypt also accusing the UN Security Council of failing to act quickly to resolve the crisis.(AFP/Abbas Momani)

A Jordanian government spokesman said the invasion “will have dangerous repercussions and negative effects on the region’s security and stability” and called for an immediate ceasefire, state-news agency Petra reported.

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Iran: U.S. Wants More Sanctions; Other Nations Feel Economic “Hurt”

January 2, 2009

A US think tank has warned that diplomacy would not stop Iran’s nuclear program and that harsher sanctions against Tehran should be adopted, a move that could drive a wedge between the White House and Germany.


US President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to “do everything that is required” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, including harsher sanctions and, if necessary, military action.

From: Deutsche Welle

“The diplomatic path is not promising,” Middle East expert James Phillips of the conservative US Heritage Foundation wrote, according to the DPA news agency. A carrot-and-stick policy towards Iran holds little hope, he added, because “for Iran, a nuclear weapon is the biggest carrot.”

Phillips warned Obama against meeting with Iranian leaders, and said he believed Tehran would use the event for propaganda and delay tactics. He said Iran was not interested in dialogue and reconciliation with with it calls “the Great Satan.”

Iran’s real Achilles’ heel, he said, was its economy, adding that if hurt by harsher sanctions, the rule of Iran’s fundamentalists could be seriously challenged.

German-Iranian trade

But a new round of sanctions risks magnifying the diverging interests between the US and its allies such as Germany, which still has firm financial connections with Iranian banks and which continues to do business with the Islamic republic of around 70 million inhabitants. In fact, some 75 percent of all medium and small businesses in Iran use German-made equipment.

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U.N. Sanctions Worthless As China Runs Around Them

December 19, 2008

U.N. sanctions on North Korea, imposed after it tested a nuclear device in 2006, have produced no impact, largely because China  has failed to implement the measures and has increased exports of banned luxury goods to the North, according to a new report.

By Nicholas Kralev
The Washington Times

“Chinese exports of luxury goods to North Korea did not fall to zero in 2007” as required by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718, which Beijing supported, said Marcus Noland, the author of the report and an expert on the North Korean economy at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Indeed, such exports increased between 2006 and 2007.”

Mr. Noland said China, the North’s largest trading partner, has avoided accountability in part because the United Nations never published an official definition or list of “luxury goods.”

The resolution passed relatively quickly by U.N. standards Oct. 14, 2006, five days after Pyongyang’s underground test, under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which means that it relates to a threat to international peace and security and is supposed to be mandatory on all U.N. members. Besides luxury goods, weapons exports also were banned.

China's President Hu Jintao delivers his speech to mark the ... 
China’s President Hu Jintao delivers his speech to mark the 30th anniversary of China’s reform held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2008.
(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Implementation of the sanctions, however, was left up to individual countries. In a letter to the council a year ago, Marcello Spatafora, chairman of the U.N. sanctions committee, said 71 countries and the European Union had submitted reports on the penalties they had imposed. China’s report was said to be lacking in detail and Beijing requested that it not be published, Mr. Noland said.

Using trade statistics reported by China, Mr. Noland concluded that its exports of luxury goods increased from under $50 million in 2006 to as much as $120 million in 2007.

“Before North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test, it was widely believed that such an event would have cataclysmic diplomatic ramifications,” he said. “However … no evidence is found to support the notion that these events have had any effect on North Korea’s trade with its two principal partners.”

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to questions seeking comment on Mr. Noland’s report.

State Department officials said they had not seen the report but indicated that they would not pursue the issue. Six-nation nuclear negotiations broke down last week after the North refused to commit in writing to procedures to verify a declaration of its nuclear history it submitted in June.

Mr. Noland worked on President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers at the White House in 1993-94. The Peterson Institute is a nonpartisan research organization.

Analysts were intrigued by Mr. Noland’s report but expressed little surprise at his findings.

In this Oct. 23, 2000 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong ... 
In this Oct. 23, 2000 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is seen before meeting with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, unseen, at the Pae Kha Hawon Guest House in Pyongyang.(AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, Pool, File

“I never thought that Resolution 1718 had much teeth beyond being passed unanimously,” said Jack Pritchard, former U.S. special envoy for talks with North Korea. “The real question is: Why hasn’t the Security Council created a mechanism to enforce a requirement for a definition of luxury goods?”

A ban on such goods is “an inconvenience for the regime,” but it cannot be expected to affect North Korea’s economy, Mr. Pritchard added.

Madeleine Albright

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is known for his fondness for French cognac and fine wines.

John R. Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations and a vocal critic of the organization and negotiations with the North, said: “Nothing ever surprises me about the ineffectiveness of U.N. sanctions.”

Mr. Bolton

He said, however, “For a permanent member [of the Security Council] not to comply is serious,” adding that China “is the only country that has leverage over North Korea.”

World leaders clash on Iran sanctions

December 17, 2008

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday briefed a half-dozen key Arab states on U.S.-led efforts to stem Iran‘s nuclear program but achieved no new consensus on how to prevent Iran from developing the technology for a nuclear weapon.

“All there expressed their concern about Iran’s nuclear policies and its regional ambitions,” Miss Rice said after the morning meeting with diplomats from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.

Representatives from Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany – which have been trying without success to persuade Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program for several years – also took part in the session conducted on the sidelines of a Security Council debate on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

By Betsy Pisik
The Washington Times 

British Foreign Minister David Miliband, far left, listen as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, second from right, address the United Nations Security Council at the United Nations in New York, Tuesday Dec. 16, 2008. Council members debated before voting on a draft resolution calling for an intensification of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Associated Press.

Above: British Foreign Minister David Miliband, far left, listen as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, second from right, addresses the issue of Iran’s nuclear efforts.

Miss Rice said there was no discussion of new sanctions against Iran, which has defied several U.N. resolutions demanding that it curb its nuclear program.

Those attending are “concerned that there will need to be a way to finally incent Iran to make a different choice concerning its nuclear ambitions,” Miss Rice said. “But this was not an effort to develop a common strategy.”

Divisions among Iran’s Arab neighbors across the Persian Gulf have made it more difficult to contain Iran.

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Iran: We Have Best Plan for UN Consideration

December 15, 2008

An Iranian lawmaker said here [in Tehran] Sunday that the talks on Iran’s proposed package is the best solution to Iran’s nuclear standoff, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported.

“Negotiations within the framework of Iran’s proposed package is the best solution to Iran’s nuclear dispute,” head of Iran’s Parliament (Majlis) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi told reporters.

“Recognized principles of the UN nuclear watchdog and the Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as the framework provided by the two sides’ proposed packages are the best possible solution,” Boroujerdi was quoted as saying.

He made the remarks when asked about the European Union (EU) Foreign Policy chief Javier Solana’s statements concerning the hope to meet Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in near future.              

Solana in mid-June presented to Iran a new package of incentives proposed by six major powers, including Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany, suggesting that Iran get a temporary reprieve from economic and financial sanctions in exchange for freezing its enrichment activities.

However, Iran’s government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham said that the country would reject any nuclear deal offered by major world powers that demands a suspension of its uranium enrichment.

Iran’s failure to answer the new package in a way expected by the West, reasoning that Iran’s answer will be based on logical and constructive answers to Iran’s already-proposed package to the Westerners which is aimed to help resolve regional and international problems including Iran’s nuclear issue, disappointed the West.

The United States and its allies have accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program.

Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.