News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for September 21.
- Reuters: In a special report, Louis Charbonneau writes Turkey, among other U.S. allies, allows Iranian banks with links to Iran’s alleged nuclear program to do business within their borders. “The fact that Turkey is allowing itself to be used as a conduit for Iranian activity via Turkish banks and the Turkish lira is making it possible for Iranian funds in Turkish guise to make their way into Europe,” said an intelligence report provided to Reuters by “a diplomat.” Charbonneau acknowledges that “much of the trade is legitimate” but “if Turkey becomes a virtual safe haven for Iranian banking activities, it will be easier for Tehran to dodge sanctions, according to diplomats.” (Neoconservatives, such as Michael Rubin, have been quick to question Turkey’s commitment to sanctions. Dr. Serkan Zorba wrote on LobeLog yesterday about the misinformation surrounding claims that Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdo?an received $25 million from Iran.)
- McClatchy: James Rosen reports on comments made by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Monday, when Graham said the U.S. must be prepared to use military force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. “If you use military force against Iran, you’ve opened up Pandora’s box,” Graham told the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington. “If you allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, you’ve emptied Pandora’s box. I’d rather open up Pandora’s box than empty it.” He continued, “From my point of view, if we engage in military operations as a last resort, the United States should have in mind the goal of changing the regime.” “Not by invading (Iran), but by launching a military strike by air and sea,” advised Graham.
- National Review: For the October 4 print edition of the right-wing magazine, former George W. Bush National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism, Juan Zarate, writes that sanctions against Iran are “biting, but it isn’t enough.” Zarate calls for further isolation to slow Iran’s nuclear program, support for internal dissent, and “build[ing] other forms of leverage.” The latter refers to the “military option.” Zarate supports his bullet-point recommendations by citing, in part, the neocon-written report Jim Lobe refers to as a “roadmap to war with Iran”: “Maintain a credible military option, as the Bipartisan Policy Center has recently recommended. This will keep the possibility of force in the mind of the Iranian regime and reassure our allies […] — and perhaps ask the Israelis not to attack Iranian nuclear sites.”
- Weekly Standard: On the magazine’s blog, the Standard‘s co-founder and editor Bill Kristol reproduces in full remarks made around Washington by Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the United States. Kristol picks out “key passages” which focus on what Oren calls “radical, genocidal Iran.” When speaking at synagogues, Oren asks congregants to put themselves in the shoes of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu in order to “stand with [Israel] as we resist Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons,” and to “respect the decisions we take.” Kristol appears to interpret this as softening up a sympathetic U.S. audience for an Israeli attack on Iran: “It would seem that if President Obama does not act to stop Iran, Prime Minister Netanyahu will.”