News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for October 28, 2010.
Foreign Policy: Marc Lynch blogs that while the White House is considering “talk[ing] more openly about military options [against Iran],” according to The New York Times’ David Sanger, such rhetoric would be counterproductive and dangerous. Lynch warns that if the Iranians return to the P5+1 nuclear talks, “Iran will quite reasonably refuse to bargain under the threat of military force, and will view American offers under such conditions as manifestly insincere,” and won’t find a military threat credible. More importantly, such threats would destroy any confidence building measures and widen existing divisions. “The greatest danger of introducing open war talk by the administration is that it would represent the next step in the ‘ratcheting’ of which I’ve been warning for months and pave the way either to the 1990s Iraq scenario or to an actual war,” says Lynch.
The Jerusalem Post: The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD) Benjamin Weinthal writes that new EU sanctions will have an impact on EU-Iranian gas deals but unlike the U.S. sanctions the new EU sanctions will not place sanctions on individual Iranian officials because of human rights violations. Weinthal interviews FDD’s Mark Dubowitz who tells him, “A fragile political consensus exists in favor of sanctions in Europe. If the Obama administration doesn’t provide determined leadership by either sanctioning foreign companies which are violating US law, or persuading these companies to terminate their Iranian ties, European governments will not enforce their own sanctions.” Weinthal repeats his Dubowitz’s calls for Swiss energy company Elektrizitätsgesellschaft Laufenburg (EGL) to cancel its €18 billion-€20 billion gas deal with Iran.
Tehran Bureau: Matthew Levitt, a senior fellow at the hawkish Washington Institute for Near east Policy (WINEP) writes that while the Treasury Department’s decision to sanction 37 German, Maltese and Cypriot companies for being controlled by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) but “the latest U.S. actions are not likely to put sufficient pressure on Tehran to change the regime’s calculus.” The Iranian shipping line is alleged to participate in arms smuggling and, according to Levitt is “one of the central players in Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons capabilities.”