News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for September 13.
- Wall Street Journal: Reuel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz, respectively a Senior Fellow and Executive Director at the neoconservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, point out that while sanctions have led to decreased trade between some American allies (European countries and Japan) and Iran, China and Russia will continue to fill “the void” unless America punishes their “subversiveness.” The authors call on the U.S. to bar domestic business with subsidiaries of Russian and Chinese energy companies involved in Iran, force, block them from receiving U.S. contracts and state pension fund divestment from their businesses. They acknowledge “any U.S. action will surely infuriate Moscow and Beijing, as well as those in Washington who have worked to ‘reset’ our relations with both countries.” But they see the alternative as “collapsing our Iran policy.” They conclude by raising the specter of an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities should the U.S. fail its “test of wills with Russia and China over Iran”, noting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “will decide one of these days whether a nuclear-armed Iran is acceptable, or not.”
- Los Angeles Times: The L.A. Times has a piece by Ramin Mostaghim and Borzou Daraghi, accompanied online by an AP video, on the possible release of Sarah Shroud. Shroud is one of the three American hikers arrested on espionage charges near the Iraq-Iran border more than a year ago. Her release that was scheduled for last Saturday, initially portrayed by Iran as an act of clemency to mark the end of Ramadan, has been delayed. Bail is now set at $500,000, according to both a lawyer for the hikers and the prosecutor. The U.S. government and their families have denied that the hikers are spies. Daraghi and Mostaghim note the prosecutor “told reporters that Iran had enough evidence to prove the three were spies and the ‘Americans have responded too,’ hinting at possible behind-the-scenes diplomatic communications between Iran and the U.S. over the hikers.”
- Reuters: IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said on Monday that, “Iran’s repeated objection to the designation of inspectors with experience in Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle and facilities hampers the inspection process.” Iran insists the two inspectors were banned from entering the country in June because they have provided false information about the Iranian nuclear program. The IAEA and the US argue that Iran’s actions are an attempt to limit the monitoring capabilities of the UN’s nuclear watchdog. Tehran has cited its right to refuse access for specific inspectors under the non-proliferation accord with the IAEA.
- Reuters: William Maclean reports that according to Mikhail Marelov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Federation Council of Russia, his country’s support of Iran’s nuclear energy program is intended to encourage Iranian compliance with the IAEA. “That is why, if we cooperate with Iran in the field of nuclear energy when we do Bushehr, this is how we try to keep these guys playing by the rules of the IAEA,” Maretov told the International Institute of International Studies think tank. Moscow is finding it difficult to balance trade with Iran and improved relations with the US. Iran continues to express anger over Russia’s refusal to veto the sanctions while the US and European Union are calling on Russia to put more pressure on Iran to abandon its alleged nuclear weapons program.
- The Daily Beast: Philip Shenon reports that the 9/11 Commission overlooked “explosive material” suggesting connections between the 9/11 attacks and the Iranian government. The 9/11 Commission, says Shenon, concentrated its research on CIA and FBI terrorism files and mostly ignored the NSA archives. Not until the end of the investigation did the Commission search NSA. Its belatedly acquired findings on Iran resulted in “the Iran material was forced into the commission’s final report with limited context and without any chance for followup by the commission; the panel was about to shut down.” An anonymous “former commission staff member” told Shenon, “”It’s kind of shocking to me that no one has tried to get back in there since. We certainly didn’t see everything at NSA.”