News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for October 5, 2010.
- Bloomberg: Raj Rajendran reports that recent Japanese sanctions against Iran may reduce oil exports from Iran by 25-percent, a reduction of 500,000 barrels per day. The sanctions, which were announced on September 3, have led to the suspension of new oil and gas investments in Iran and frozen the assets of 88 organizations and 24 individuals who do business with Iran. Projections estimate Iranian crude oil production will drop from the pre-sanctions target of 5.3 million barrels to 3.34 million by 2015.
- The Weekly Standard Blog: While The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies’ Mark Dubowitz applauds the State Department’s announcement last week about sanctions enforcement, he calls attention to the “many European and Asian companies [that] continue to make deals with Iran,” including Chinese and Swiss companies. Last week FDD revealed the Swiss firm Ceresola TLS had sold Iran €1 billion of tunneling and heavy earth-moving equipment. Dubowitz, who calls for punitive measures against European, Chinese and Russian companies on a nearly weekly basis, warns that “If the Obama administration opts for only symbolic and selective measures, it could collapse our Iran policy, making it likely to require more drastic measures to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
- Financial Times: Najmeh Bozorgmehr writes Iran has dropped the espionage charges against Hossein Rassam, an Iranian national employed as the chief political analyst at the British embassy in Tehran. Although cleared of those charges, Rassam was hit with a charge of “propaganda against the regime.” That carries a 12 month sentence that will be suspended for five years, meaning Rassam can’t have any contact with foreign embassies or political groups. Nonetheless, the reduction of the charge indicates the weakness of those conspiracy theories that the British were behind the unrest following Iran’s disputed June 2009 presidential election.
- The Wall Street Journal: While some hawks have squawked about an unnatural and nefarious Iranian influence in Iraq, WSJ‘s Sam Dagher reports from Baghdad that Iranian clout over the Shiite community is an “unexpected casualty” of the post-election wrangling. While the anti-occupation cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, by lending his support, appears to have put Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki in a good position for a second term, Dagher notes that the Islamic Supreme Council of Iran (ISCI) is no longer backing Maliki. ISCI is the Shiite party considered closest to Iran. The report also notes that the key Kurdish player in coalition negotiations is not Jalal Talabani, the current president with strong ties to Iran, but Masoud Barzani, who “has had a difficult relationship with Iran” and holds the most Kurdish seats.