Sunday, December 24, 2006

Sanctions on Iran

The press outlet of the National Council of Resistance of Iran wins the prize for first news source on Google to produce the entire text of UN Security Council Resolution 1737 which imposes sanctions on Iran. Later it will get to the UNSC website.

No surprises. Every country is to create its own laws to prevent Iran from getting enrichment, heavy water reactor and nuclear missile technology. No authorization for US interdiction of Iranian shipping. No travel bans. Asset freezes that are the responsibility of each individual country and relatively easy to get around. The first draft had been just a propaganda tool from the start. Of course, the US could have gotten this resolution in September.

The Western press during the summer would say that a Chapter 41 resolution had been committed to, and that Chapter 41 resolutions could include things like travel bans and asset freezes. Chapter 41 resolutions also can exclude travels bans and asset freezes and include sentences such as "we call on every country to impose voluntary sanctions". As I predicted, we got the second kind of resolution.

There is also a provision that IAEA will report in 60 days that Iran has not suspended its program. I have not seen any indication that Russia has made a commitment to new sanctions or to tighten current sanctions. If the price for this resolution was the US promise to come to the table, the price for the next resolution may be that the US has to offer to suspend part of its unilateral sanctions for the duration of talks.

Actually there is one surprise to me. The resolution is more emphatic than I expected on the bans of Iranian exports of technology. It seems to me the targets are Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt - two of them Sunni countries that the US press somehow believes are in a life and death struggle against Iran, but that Iran has offered to supply its fuel cycle knowledge to.

I don't think export bans will have any effect on the political situation. The countries would not buy magnets or centrifuges from Iran, they would buy them from Pakistan, China or Europe. There are some people named who, by this resolution, these countries should inform the sanctions committee of personal visits that could help a nuclear program, but these days they can videoconference. Before they could have sent deputies.

When Iran offers the fuel cycle to, for example, Egypt or Saudi Arabia it puts those countries in a bind. The only reason to turn such an offer down is pressure from Israel through the US. Now Iran's mission has been accomplished - a free increase in the cost Egypt and the Saudis bear to maintain their relationships with the US.

Syria on the other hand, will probably take Iran up on this offer next time it has a little cash to work with. The sanctions resolution will have little effect in preventing that.

1 comment:

John Koch said...

Is Israel worried more about Iran or the USA itself? Iran, despite all Ahmadinejad's talk, has no material incentive to launch a first strike against Israel, since this would only cause collosal Israeli retaliation. Meanwhile, the US addiction to oil assures an eternal preoccupation with the region. Sooner or later, the US will want to assert primacy, seize oilfields, squeeze out Chinese buyers, or depose folks who stand in the way. Were Iran to have even a single nuclear warhead on a single hidden missile, this would either prevent any US action. A single nuke on Tel Aviv would be unacceptable to Israel, but be a tolerable price for cheap oil, according to some calculations. Could Israel's fundamental fear be that the US would sooner let Tel Aviv get nuked in reprisal for a US assault on Iran's Ahwaz-Bangestan oil fields, than see China lock in a privileged contract? Would Israel's retaliatory threat then be best aimed at cities in Iran, or Mecca, which US oil could not care about less, or perhaps DC, Atlanta, Houston, or Chicago? This may seem far fetched, but the idea that Iran wants to nuke Israel, just for the good old sake of jihad, is maybe even more nutty.