The Daily Talking Points

News and Views Relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for August 17th, 2010:

  • The National: Michael Theodoulou reports that new sanctions will exacerbate corruption and mismanagement in Iran’s economy but do little to change Tehran’s nuclear policy. However, the sanctions could give the White House the “political space” domestically to attempt engagement again, said Sir Richard Dalton, Britain’s former ambassador to Tehran and a fellow at Chatham House, a leading British think tank. “The drumbeat for war from neo-conservative pundits and from Israel has only increased” since the “crippling, indiscriminate” new sanctions were imposed, said Trita Parsi, an Iran expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
  • Agence France-Presse (via Defense News): The White House denies reports that Obama warned Turkey that it could lose access to U.S. weapons due to its position opposing UN sanctions against Iran. Turkey preferred a plan for Iran to carry out a nuclear fuel swap, arranged by Turkey and Brazil. While both Turkish and U.S. leaders insisted that relations are positive, Turkey-Israel relations have been tense since the May 31st raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship left nine Turkish nationals dead.
  • Congressional Quarterly: Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), “an outspoken Middle East Hawk,” is reportedly preparing a bill that will prohibit foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms from conducting business in Iran and participating in commercial transactions with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Obama has yet to fully implement the existing sanctions legislation and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told the CQ that while Congress now needs to focus on making sure that the administration utilizes all the powers granted it, there is no immediate need to pressure the White House. ” I think when we get to September, October, it may be time for a first review,” Lieberman said.
  • Slate: Christopher Hitchens argues that a nuclear weapons possessing Iran would threaten more than just the existence of the state of Israel. Hitchens predicts that if Iran becomes a nuclear power, the legitimacy of the UN and the IAEA will be destroyed; Iran’s Revoutionary Guard Corp. will gain domestic power; Hezbollah or “any Iranian collusion with the Taliban or with nihilist forces in Iraq would be harder to counter”; Sunni Arab Gulf states, such as Bahrain, would also find increased Iranian aggression difficult to counter; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will never be resolved since rejectionist Palestinians will be backed by “a regime which calls for Israel’s elimination” and rejectionist Jews will be vindicated in their belief that concessions to Palestinians are a waste of time; and the concept of “nonproliferation” will be relegated to the history books.
  • Agence France-Presse (via Yahoo): Former U.S. envoy to the UN, John Bolton warned on Monday that Israel has eight days to launch a military strike against the Bushehr nuclear facility before the plant is brought online on August 21st. “Once that uranium, once those fuel rods are very close to the reactor, certainly once they’re in the reactor, attacking means a release of radiation, no question about it,” Bolton told Fox Business Network. Bolton acknowledged that it was unlikely that the Israelis would launch a bombing mission before August 21st.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.