Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 31, 2012

The Iranian "Pull Back" And The Astonishing Effects Of Sanctions

The Telegraph interviewed the Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak. The headline though is wrong: Israel says Iran has pulled back from the brink of nuclear weapon - for now
An immediate crisis was avoided in the summer when Iran quietly chose to use over a third of its medium-enriched uranium for civilian purposes, delaying the moment when it could have built a nuclear bomb.
Tehran has amassed 189kg of uranium enriched to 20 per cent purity, a vital step towards weapons-grade material. In August, the country’s experts took 38 per cent of this stockpile and converted it into fuel rods for a civilian research reactor, thus putting off the moment when they would be able to make uranium of sufficient purity for a nuclear bomb.
MoA, not Israel, was, as far as I can tell, the first to report that "pull back" on August 31: IAEA: Iranian "Nuclear Danger" Decreased
Iran has now 10% less "dangerous stuff" in the form of further easily enrichable 20% UF6 than it had in May 2012. Further enriched this stockpile would not be enough by half to create even one nuclear device. The "imminent danger" of a "nuclear Iran" has thereby decreased.
I shared those facts on an email list from which Gareth Porter picked it up to publish a piece on the issue through the IPS news agency. (Gareth is now writing a book on the history of the manufactured crisis of the Iranian nuclear scare and could use your help for that.) After Gareth (and my) piece were out some of the mainstream media also wrote about the Uranium conversion it but only as a side fact in other stories and without any analysis.

Ehud Barak now says that this Iranian step was the reason that Israel stopped its "bomb Iran now" screaming. But that is just a convenient excuse. It was Obama's unwillingness to launch an attack and, with the help of some former Israeli officials who declared an Israeli attack on Iran a lunatic undertaking, it was Obama who made Netanyahoo stand down.

As long as the world economy stays in the doldrums the U.S. will not attack Iran. The economic disruption would be too big. Additionally the disastrous results of the recent mine sweeping maneuver in the Persian Gulf makes the people in the Pentagon very reluctant to risk their precious bathtub toys in a conflict with Iran. Netanyahoo's claim that war on Iran would be "good for Arabs" is lunacy. An escalating war that at some point would hit the Gulf states' desalination plants would be a humanitarian disaster for them.

But when the elections in the U.S. and in Israel are over the Israeli "Iran scare" campaign will come back:

Mr Barak said this decision “allows contemplating delaying the moment of truth by eight to 10 months”. As for why Iran had drawn back, the minister said: “There could be at least three explanations. One is the public discourse about a possible Israeli or American operation deterred them from trying to come closer. It could probably be a diplomatic gambit that they have launched in order to avoid this issue culminating before the American election, just to gain some time. It could be a way of telling the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] 'oh we comply with our commitments’.”
All three reasons Barak gives are wrong. Iran converted the UF6 into fuel elements primarily because it needs fuel elements for its research reactor and secondarily because it wanted to signal continued readiness for serious negotiations. My conclusion two month ago was that Iran will continue to convert its UF6:
We can reasonably assume that Iran is doing this decrease on purpose and will in future convert any newly produced UF6 into fuel plates. This will keep its stock of UF6 at a level below what is needed to make a quick run towards a nuclear device.
Meanwhile look what the sanctions are doing to Iran:
A bit of news that you will not probably hear coming out of the Western media is that the Tehran Stock Exchange has hit an all time high in the last days. The market closed today at 30615.7 points on the TEDPIX which is a combination of around 400 companies in a diverse line up of industries.
Today Ali Sahraei the deputy for the Tehran Stock Exchange talked to Iranian media on this new historic high for the market and the reason for it is also the same reason that the Western media will ignore this bit of news - sanctions causing the drop in the value of the rial.

The rise has come because companies that export non-oil products are seeing huge profits and windfalls in their sales as they can now sell their foreign currencies in Iran for a huge profit as opposed to before.

For largely psychological reasons the Iranian government had kept the value of its currency, the Rial, too strong. While the recent hype about hyperinflation in Iran is simply wrong, Iran has and had significant inflation between 10-20% over the last few years. It currency's value should have dropped at an equivalent rate but was artificially kept too high. This was good from importers of foreign luxury goods but bad for Iran's own industry. The recent drop in the Rial helps domestic Iranian producers and will thereby decrease unemployment (see the comments by Baddu here).

While the sanctions on Iran decrease its oil exports the value of its other exports will, over time, compensate for that. The sanctions might well turn out to be a net positive for Iran. When Washington DC will finally wake up to these facts it will have to come up with a new strategy. It might then even give a real thought to negotiations towards an end of the conflict.

Posted by b on October 31, 2012 at 19:29 UTC | Permalink


US regimes economic warfare was studied by Joy Gordon:

Economic sanctions as a weapon of mass destruction

Posted by: brian | Oct 31 2012 20:45 utc | 1

The economic sanctions imposed on Iraq from 1990 to 2003 were the most comprehensive and devastating of any established in the name of international governance. The sanctions, coupled with the bombing campaign of 1991, brought about the near collapse of Iraq’s infrastructure and profoundly compromised basic conditions necessary to sustain life.

In a sharp indictment of U.S. policy, Joy Gordon examines the key role the nation played in shaping the sanctions, whose harsh strictures resulted in part from U.S. definitions of “dual use” and “weapons of mass destruction,” and claims that everything from water pipes to laundry detergent to child vaccines could produce weapons. Drawing on internal UN documents, confidential minutes of closed meetings, and interviews with foreign diplomats and U.S. officials, Gordon details how the United States not only prevented critical humanitarian goods from entering Iraq but also undermined attempts at reform; unilaterally overrode the UN weapons inspectors; and manipulated votes in the Security Council. In every political, legal, and bureaucratic domain, the deliberate policies of the United States ensured the continuation of Iraq’s catastrophic condition.

Provocative and sure to stir debate, this book lays bare the damage that can be done by unchecked power in our institutions of international governance.

Posted by: brian | Oct 31 2012 20:47 utc | 2

Well no one can foresee the future, but I am hoping that the sanctions will be the western gift that will undo the colonial gift they gave us (Iranians) with the "white revolution". "White revolution" destroyed our agriculture and in essence made Iran a single-profuct (ie. crude oil) colony which depended on EVERY OTHER THING on the import from the West. Let's hope that these sanctions will force the Iranian government more and more away from the neoliberal policies and toward a truly productive economy based on national technology and not imported industrial inputs from the West.

What people who blindly go against some of the authoritarian(1) regimes and put them on the same level as their western supported opponents (eg. people who see Assad regime as equally bad as the "rebels") overlook is that, although these regimes are nothing to like (far from it, they are very undemocratic) they are far more likely than their Western supported opponents to do unintended good.


*It is far more likely that a frustrated Assad would make compromises to the people (eg. bring a relatively progressive constitution) in an attempt to have the people's support in the face his powerful external enemies than it is that the US/Israeli stooges or Al-Qaeda elements in FSA make such conssessions.

*It is far more likely that a sanctioned Iranian regime will reluctantly be pushed into making investment in R&D and increasing the local production than its opponents who are not only completely dedicated to neoliberal agenda and BUT ALSO have the support of the West. IRI opponents are far more likely to be able to make Iran a member of WTO and secure poisonous loans from WB/IMF and open the country to the foreign capital than the isolated Ahmadinejad!

A system which is being fought against by the imperialism (even if that system is not anti-imperialist at all and even if this fight is not that system's choice but rather the choice of the west) is always more useful to its people than a system which is subserviant to the imperialism.

1)I must say, however, that Iran is not any more authoritarian than other developing countries, hell I would argue that it is not even so substantially different from Western "democracies"!

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Oct 31 2012 20:48 utc | 3

Joy Gordon discusses Economic warfare:

Posted by: brian | Oct 31 2012 20:48 utc | 4

3 I must say, however, that Iran is not any more authoritarian than other developing countries, hell I would argue that it is not even so substantially different from Western "democracies"!

agree, this is just in:

"Texas authorities have threatened to arrest international election observers, prompting a furious response from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

“The threat of criminal sanctions against [international] observers is unacceptable,” Janez Lenarčič, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), said in a statement. “The United States, like all countries in the OSCE, has an obligation to invite ODIHR observers to observe its elections.”"

This here from Russia, with love:

7h MFA Russia MFA Russia ‏@MFA_Russia

The #US electoral system is decentralised, fragmented and obsolete

7h MFA Russia MFA Russia ‏@MFA_Russia

The #US lectures the world on democracy and human rights, but looks only to its own laws when flaws in its voting system are pointed out

7h MFA Russia MFA Russia ‏@MFA_Russia

Unfortunately, the #ODIHR has not fully assessed the #Texas authorities’ threats to file criminal charges against international observers

7h MFA Russia MFA Russia ‏@MFA_Russia

The situation around the #ODIHR observers monitoring the upcoming #US presidential election in #Texas is disturbing

Posted by: somebody | Oct 31 2012 21:34 utc | 5

Hey, b, thanks a lot for the shout-out about Gareth's book project and our fundraising effort around it. We really do need any help that you or any of your readers can giving to the fundraising, as neither Gareth nor my company gets any support from "think tanks", foundations, or the like...

I think that publishing the materials that Gareth has assembled for this book can make a huge difference to the discourse around the much-hyped Iranian nuclear "weapons" program. Anyway, people should go to the fundraising web-page even if only to see the fab infographic and future book cover that Mr. Netanyahoo has provided us with.

(It is true, as you and Gareth were the first to note, that by the time Mr. N posed for this picture in September, he was already pulling back on the Iranian nuclear scare he had previously been concocting. But still, the photo is iconic, and deservedly so.)

Posted by: Helena | Oct 31 2012 21:48 utc | 6

The sanctions are working and I would not share the optimism of b ,
The current sanctions imposed on Iran by the Illumniati are the harshest in living memory.
Things are bad , especially in Tehran , however the Iranians are well aware of the 'agenda' , thus there is a big hope that they will 'adapt' with the hardships , as it's a long way to go , at least 2 years in my opinion.
I don't know if I can compare 'Sandy' with the current situation in Iran , but the devastating effects of the sanctions on Iran can symbolically be compared to the pictures I saw today in TV regarding NJ.
Iranians will work their way through the sanctions no doubt , but the road will be hard along with a lot of suffering.

Posted by: Tehran | Oct 31 2012 21:52 utc | 7

Helena @6 Mahalo, Helena, for supporting Gareth's excellent work...! I'm a big fan of your's and Gareth's tireless efforts...!

Posted by: CTuttle | Oct 31 2012 23:17 utc | 8

The "international community" may well enable Iran to escape the dreaded "dutch disease" which has afflicted all countries whose exports are dominated by natural resources. The "dutch disease" got its name when Holland discovered natural gas, began massive exports, only to see its economy tank.

Once a country gets "dutch disease", its currency gets overvalued relative to other internationally traded goods. Imports get cheap. Domestic manufacturers can no longer compete.

It's the saga of every oil producer that didn't already have a huge domestic industrial base. And it even affected Holland, which had a sizable industrial base. Oil and gas are a curse that ravages everything thing else.

But sanctions may be just what Iran needs to do massive import substitution, create a large industrial base, consume much of its energy internally, and end up with a modern, balanced economy.

Meanwhile the US and Europe have allowed their currencies to become reserve currencies, which creates the same effect as the "dutch disease." Imports are cheap, domestic manufacturing gets hollowed out, exports dry up as international accounts depend more and more heavily on financial transactions.

What an irony that the "international community" may end up saving the Iranian economy while destroying their own!

Posted by: JohnH | Oct 31 2012 23:47 utc | 9

"Things are bad, especially in Tehran"
Things are bad everywhere.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 31 2012 23:54 utc | 10

very interesting post, the problems raised concern European countries as well, especially Italy, as an exit from the Euro currency is increasingly contemplated; devaluation of the new national currency, increase of exports and reduce of imports - Germany fears this outcome, where countries are freed from the Euro straightjacket; Greece, Portugal and Spain might have greater problems, but Italy is Europe's second industrial manufacturer and could easily substitute most imported goods with domestic ones

I wish good luck to the Iranians, as they move away from the foreign currency dominated economical system

after all, devaluation is a consequence of market economy: offer and demand in the foreign currency market; neoliberists are against state intervention in any economical matter, except for fixing the currency rates, artificially favoring creditors over debtors

Posted by: claudio | Nov 1 2012 0:03 utc | 11

The whole matter of Iran enriching uranium up to 20% as a threat is of course a concocted one, since in 2010 Iran signed an agreement with Turkey and Brazil to have this enrichment done in Turkey, not in Iran. But --
Haaretz, May 17, 2010
Israel fears Iran nuclear deal will delay UN sanctions

Iran vows to continue high-grade nuclear fuel enrichment despite swap deal; White House: Iran must prove its nuclear program is peaceful.

Israel was refraining Monday from discussing Iran's agreement to ship low-grade nuclear fuel abroad, pending an official response on the matter from the Western powers.

The central concern in Israel was that the deal, brokered by Brazil and Turkey, will delay the onset of harsh United Nations sanctions over Iran's contentious nuclear program.

And --
IPS News, May 19, 2010
Brazil-Turkey Deal with Iran Undermines Big Power Politics
UNITED NATIONS, May 19, 2010 (IPS) - When Brazil and Turkey clinched a deal with Iran over its disputed nuclear programme last weekend, the two non-permanent members of the Security Council not only challenged the unbridled political power exercised by the five big powers but also jeopardised U.S. plans for a unanimous resolution imposing sanctions against Tehran.

And then--
UN, June 9, 2010
Security Council Imposes Additional Sanctions on Iran,
Expressing deep concern about Iran’s lack of compliance with its previous resolutions on ensuring the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme, the Security Council imposed additional sanctions on the country today, expanding an arms embargo and tightening restrictions on financial and shipping enterprises related to “proliferation-sensitive activities”.

So --
DailyStar, Aug 30, 2010
Iran atomic chief says fuel swap talks finished
TEHRAN: Iran will no longer negotiate a nuclear fuel swap with some of the world’s powers, its atomic chief said Monday, adding however that it is ready for closer cooperation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

“We will no longer negotiate a fuel swap and a halt to our production of [nuclear] fuel,” Iran Atomic Energy Organization chief Fereydoun Abbasi Davani said in an interview with the official IRNA news agency.

Even though Obama had written to Brazil's President Lula in April "Iran’s agreement to transfer 1,200 kg of Iran’s low enriched uranium (LEU) out of the country would build confidence and reduce regional tensions," Obama now said that he was "pleased" by developments after usual standouts Russia and China gave their backing to a tough new draft sanctions resolution circulated Tuesday to the full UN Security Council. Thus Obama reneged on yet another, of many, of his promises for hope and change -- this one to negotiate with Iran in good faith.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 1 2012 0:14 utc | 12

Technical point:
Uranium that has an assay of 235U from the natural level to, but not including, 20% is called low enriched uranium (LEU). Typical fresh power reactor fuel has 235U assays below 5%. Uranium with an assay of 235U equal to or more than 20% is called high enriched uranium (HEU).

Iran enriches to 20%, meaning less than 20% -- LEU. The Telegraph's usage of the term "medium-enriched uranium" has no basis.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 1 2012 0:18 utc | 13

Now Iran because of sanctions is adjusting its economy, shifting from one built on cheap imports to one with increased domestic production. Perhaps the USA should solicit sanctions?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 1 2012 1:17 utc | 14

Nobody would deny your argument, b. In terms of logic, Israel would not attack Iran.

Netanyahu, however, doesn't think that way. It is not certain what his real aims are. But not elimination of a hypothetical Iranian nuclear threat.

I would say elimination of the Palestinians under the cover of the attack on Iran is a reasonable objective, but even that won't work. The Palestinians are not going to run as they did in 1948.

Posted by: alexno | Nov 1 2012 1:45 utc | 15

There is no possibility that the US or Israel would bomb Iran -- it would sink US ships and destroy Israel, among other things.

The whole discussion suits US/Israel though. It focuses on a necessary USA enemy, it elevates Israel from a mini-state to a world player, and it removes the settlements and the Palestinian cause from any consideration. So they'll keep it going endlessly. They're up to the brink, they've pulled back from the brink -- stay tuned. Meanwhile Iran, with world-wide support, plays US/Israel on this issue like the fools they are.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 1 2012 2:21 utc | 16

The sanctions are also on the European economy.
AP, Oct 24, 2012

PARIS (AP) — France is offering a €7 billion ($9.1 billion) lifeline to PSA Peugeot Citroen, the carmaker confirmed Wednesday alongside another drop in sales.

In return, the Socialist government is expected to demand a reduction in layoffs, hoping to blunt rising unemployment in a sector critical to the French economy. The government has made a point of trying to revive industry and save jobs in France, where unemployment struck 10.6 percent in August.

In an attempt to rein in costs, the company has already announced its intention to close one factory this year and to lay off thousands of workers. . .Automotive division sales were down 8.5 percent, hurt especially by a weakening European demand and the suspension of deliveries to Iran.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 1 2012 2:41 utc | 17

Today Ali Sahraei the deputy for the Tehran Stock Exchange talked to Iranian media on this new historic high for the market and the reason for it is also the same reason that the Western media will ignore this bit of news - sanctions causing the drop in the value of the rial.

Western media is not ignoring this news, here's a bit from the WSJ

level of Tehran's bourse index doesn't reflect its real value. "The fall of the rial leads to inflation which leads into the nominal increase in the TSE," says Paul Sullivan, a professor of economics at the National Defense University in Washington D.C.

Posted by: Calig | Nov 1 2012 2:41 utc | 18

"The fall of the rial leads to inflation which leads into the nominal increase in the TSE." Yeah, right! When was the last time stocks rose in a period of rapid inflation?

I wonder if financial markets were included as part of Paul Sullivan's study of economics.

Posted by: JohnH | Nov 1 2012 3:26 utc | 19

What you are thinking is very close to whats going through my head.
Trying to produce things locally, rather than importing them, especially when you are in certain cases decades behind the global producers is not all that profitable. If you happen to have a source of foreign currency (such as oil, or gas or any other natural resource such as copper in case of Chile for example), it is always much more profitable for a corrupt ruling elite to import rather than try to produce.
No one can tell the future, so I am not going to speculate that the Iranian ruling elite because of the brute force of the sanctions will move in the right direction, but I do think that the possibility of the ruling elite in Iran moving in the right direction has increased. So I am hoping that they will move in the right direction.

@Tehran 7:
You say:

"The sanctions are working and I would not share the optimism of b ,
The current sanctions imposed on Iran by the Illumniati are the harshest in living memory.
Things are bad , especially in Tehran , however the Iranians are well aware of the 'agenda' , thus there is a big hope that they will 'adapt' with the hardships , as it's a long way to go , at least 2 years in my opinion."

Can you elaborate on what you mean by saying that "the sanctions are working"?
If you mean that people are suffering, then I must say that from what I know the price of items such as bread, chicken and egg have not increased drastically. I also believe that the price of most medications (at least the ones which are being produced locally which means the majority of the basic medications) must not have increased a great deal.
The main people who are suffering are the middle-class who used to buy cheap dollar (for any purpose as vital as supporting their student children in the west to any purpose as luxurious as buying imported shaving blades or buying dollar to make touristic trips to Antalya) and now it can't.
When we say that there is a *possibility* that these sanctions *may* work for Iran's benefit, what we mean is that it *may* push Iran towards increasing the local production (I am sure that the difference between the price of Iranian rice and the price Pakistani/Indian rice is not as much as it used to be say in 2010). Peugeot doesn't sell Iran Khodro the parts it used to sell? Well try to make those parts inside the country. It will take a while perhaps, but eventually you will manage (that is if you don't have enough dollars to go and buy some parts from China this time!!). At the beginning they will be of crappy quality worries...people cannot afford to buy 'Toyota', 'Mazda 3' or 'Renault Megan' anyway!!
Pretty much any country which has industrialized, has protected its locally produced goods and has put significant tariffs for the foreign goods. The regime in Iran would not take that step on its own, these sanctions will force it to go in that direction (hopefully!!)

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Nov 1 2012 3:30 utc | 20

Pundits knee jerk reaction is often the same for Iran as for Venezuela.

Interestingly enough, Venezuela's stock market this year is a stellar performer. And, critics say, Venezuela has high inflation.

What's missed is the fact that Venezuela has been growing solidly for some time. And inflation is down substantially this year. All of which makes for a favorable environment for stocks.

For Iranian stocks to peak while the economy tanks simply makes no economic sense. Since it has to be nearly impossible for foreigners to invest in Iran, Iranian investors must be privy to something the Western media isn't. Otherwise, Iranians would be investing in carpets.

Posted by: JohnH | Nov 1 2012 3:49 utc | 21

@ 18

"level of Tehran's bourse index doesn't reflect its real value. "The fall of the rial leads to inflation which leads into the nominal increase in the TSE,"

While true, I don't recall the WSJ ever making that connection with regard to the US stock market, which, when compared to the value of gold over the last decade, hasn't really done very well at all.

JohnH #19. In the past stock markets fell during inflation because they expected the FED/ECB/BOJ/other central banks would print less money in response. But now that it's clear the FED will keep printing for some time to come, markets tend to go up.

Posted by: Lysander | Nov 1 2012 4:18 utc | 22

There have been a number of commentators over at RaceforIran making the case that the Iranian economy is big enough to sustain itself in the face of these sanctions. There is no doubt that the sanctions are radically altering the Iranian economy. They are definitely struggling. But there is no question but that local Iranian industry is becoming stronger in the face of sanctions.

The important point is that Iran can export abroad. Given that that Russia and China are ignoring the US inspired sanctions it does seem that the Iranian economy can survive this assault from Western imperial powers.

South Africa collapses after the whole world was against them. Today Iran has the support from China, Russia, much of Africa and South America. With a market that large Iran will probably successfully resist US and Israeli inspired sanctions.

Posted by: ToivoS | Nov 1 2012 4:24 utc | 23

Tehran Times, Nov 1, 2012

Iran trade with Turkey is increasing.

2000 $1bn
2010 $10bn
2011 $15bn
2012 $17bn (1st 8 months)

2012 Jan-Aug
Turkey imported $8.94 billion worth of goods from Iran and exported $8.58 worth of goods during the 8-month period.

This is despite Erdogan's rants against Iran for various reasons, including its PKK support and its support of Iraq and Syria.

US Census
Exports from USA to Iran are only $199.5 million 1st 8 months 2012.

Take that, France. (Do as we say, not as we do.)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 1 2012 5:11 utc | 24

There are no global sanctions on Iran, there are Western sanctions. And they are shooting themselves in the foot.
Pirouz_2, to explain what you are saying, you would have to add that Iran is only partly a market economy. So the government is used to fix prices (which in real terms presumably means easy subsistence for poor people and a booming black market). That bourse thing would have to be analyzed with the knowledge if Iran is proceding or not with the privatization of companies.

The sanctions have to be seen against the background of
"Growth potential

According to experts, the economy of Iran has many investment opportunities, particularly on its stock exchange.[65] The Central Bank of Iran indicate that 70 percent of the Iranians own homes with huge amounts of idle money entering the housing market.[66] However, if the stock market grows stronger, it will undoubtedly attract idle capital.[67] In terms of investment, the domestic rival markets of the bourse are the Iranian real estate market, cars and gold (with gold being used as a store of value, a hedging tool against hyperinflation and the devaluation of the Rial). According to Goldman Sachs, Iran is forecast to reach the highest economic growth between 2015 and 2025 and join the world's largest economies (world's 12th economy by 2025)."

If it was feasible NATO would have attacked Iran a long time ago. As is they are stuck in a proxy war where the proxies will not share the loot. There is a fight for influence in the middle East between Saudi Arabia, Quatar, Turkey competing with US,Israel,France,UK competing with Russia, competing with Iran.
Russia trades with Iran using their own currencies. This here is the Rial Rubel currency chart.This here is the Dollar to Rial currency chart.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 1 2012 6:58 utc | 25

forgot China. They are the quiet ones keeping out of fights. They will win this.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 1 2012 7:04 utc | 26

Could regular commentators please note the allowed HTML Tags on this blog - and use BLOCKQUOTE when posting lenghty texts from Wikipedia (or better yet, don't bother).

Posted by: DM | Nov 1 2012 11:26 utc | 27

"There are no global sanctions on Iran"
Yes, there are, imposed by the UN Security Council.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 1 2012 15:12 utc | 28

28 sorry, should be "economic" sanctions, UN Security Council Sanctions are on nuclear material and weapons.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 1 2012 15:20 utc | 29


"Asked why Iran would have decided on such a conversion, Mr. Barak said it might have taken Israeli and American warnings seriously, might have wished to delay a confrontation with Israel until after the American presidential elections, or might have been seeking to convince the agency of the sincerity of its peaceful intent. Iran has consistently denied it intends to build a nuclear weapon and has denounced Israel’s assertions as warmongering."

Actually the reason Iran was enriching up to 20% is to do just what it did, convert to fuel rods for use in the Tehran Research Reactor. Iran's original supply of fuel rods, necessary to produce medical isotopes, needs to be replaced. The LAST thing that Iran ever does is to take "Israeli and American warnings seriously."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 1 2012 15:28 utc | 30

that the "economic" sanctions are not UN sanctions but unilateral is the self defeating foolish part of US/EU strategy

not even Switzerland is on the same page

"SINGAPORE/BEIJING, Sept 26 - Vitol, the world's largest oil trader, is buying and selling Iranian fuel oil, undermining Western efforts to choke the flow of petrodollars to Tehran and put pressure on Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program.

Vitol last month bought 2 million barrels of fuel oil, used for power generation, from Iran and offered it to Chinese traders, Reuters established in interviews with 10 oil trading, industry and shipping sources in Southeast Asia, China and the Middle East.

The Swiss-based firm issued a statement saying Vitol Group is in compliance with all international laws on trade with Iran.

"A Bahraini subsidiary company purchased a spot cargo of fuel oil from a non Iranian counterparty in July 2012. The fuel oil delivered under contract was of Iranian origin. Vitol Group companies no longer purchase any product of Iranian origin," Vitol said, without elaborating.

Vitol is not obliged to comply with a ban imposed in July by the European Union on trading oil with Iran because Switzerland decided not to match EU and U.S. sanctions against Tehran."

Posted by: somebody | Nov 1 2012 15:38 utc | 31

If the Sunday Times is correct, Iran does not need a nuclear bomb

Israel is preparing to shut its nuclear reactor at Dimona, where it makes nuclear weapons, because of the site’s vulnerability in any war with Iran.

The decision, taken by the Israel Atomic Energy Commission and the country’s civil defence authorities, follows a realisation that the facility could be vulnerable to a missile attack.

The Haaretz newspaper quoted officials last week as saying they had concluded that the reactor was no longer impenetrable in the event of war. Deactivating the reactor in southern Israel would minimise the dangers of nuclear fallout in the area “should it be targeted by missiles from as far away as Iran”.

The official explanation is that work on the reactor is conducted for research and does not need to be carried out around the clock.

According to defence sources the shutdown at Dimona would begin before the launch of any Israeli or US assault on Iran’s

Posted by: somebody | Nov 1 2012 15:43 utc | 32

Libyan militias besieging Libyan parliament

Posted by: nikon | Nov 1 2012 15:53 utc | 33

Advancements in missile technology have leveled the military playing field. Iran has ships in the Red Sea. Iran has cruise missiles and ballistic missiles which can be fired from ships. Hezbollah in Lebanon also has missiles. Israel would cease to exist if Iran is attacked, so it won't be.

It's all a charade, a game which Iran is winning. Iran now has an ally in Iraq on its west, and is angling for Afghanistan on its east. India is firmly in Iran's corner, and probably Pakistan, all thanks to Uncle Samuel.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 1 2012 16:05 utc | 34

Donbacon #14 & 34

Yes! Absolute madness. The European economy suffers further due to the sanctions. Menwhile US exports to Iran increase by almost a third.

Tons of links to the story, too many to post.

All the bluster about Iran being isolated is just plain wrong as demonstrated by the recent NAM meeting in Tehran.

The government is now taking steps to ensure that domestic production and manufacturing increases. They want to increase the populations consumption of home produced goods. Getting the raw materials is an issue but I think they will manage.

In the longer term these canctions will harm the west more than Iran if western governments are not careful. Meanwhile the BRICS cash in.

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 1 2012 16:43 utc | 35

Things don't change all that much as far as the US stance on Irans nuclear programme.

Gareth Porter, on the approach Tehran made to the Clinton administration back in 1998.

All sounds a bit familiar to me.

Posted by: Billyboy | Nov 1 2012 17:04 utc | 36


I'm still trying to understand the point that many US corporations thought they were making when they moved everything to China. Sure, they got lower taxes and paid lower wages, could pollute with no consequences, and abuse the workers without remorse. But did they ever have a long-term plan, and if so, what was it? Did they really think that they were going to install western corporations into key eastern countries and gain access and control of their governments? Or, was it all just short term, paid for inadvertently by the US taxpayers, and a temporary situation while they wait for the US workers to finally see the wisdom of making $1.00 an hour?

Or, maybe they really thought that the Chinese were going to continue laying out the red carpet for them indefinitely, and they were all going to move themselves and their families to China (like Jim Rogers), and live happily ever after?

I guess they didn't think that the Chinese might be smart, and might have a long-term plan for using all the information and technology they have had the good fortune of gleaning from US corporations (as well as being very nationalist). Chinese must be rolling on the floor laughing, like they did when Geithner was over there telling them their Dollar assets were "safe".

Posted by: Cynthia | Nov 1 2012 19:45 utc | 37

"it was Obama who made Netanyahoo stand down."

Doubtful. Obama is a "water boy". While some neocons probably seriously contemplated the sort of war these fascists waged against Iraq, or deluded themselves into thinking Iran could be another Libya operation, I doubt the grown ups who monitor the neocon playground would have allowed those toddlers another iraq style go at Iran. Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, when the neocons were allowed to play with their G.I. Joe dolls, Iran still has a military and have not been greatly weakened by sanctions and decades of war, civil and external. Iran is also not isolated and alone, they have allies, and a large number of people and governments worldwide who are on their side in this. From a practicable standpoint, such a war against Iran is too stupid to seriously contemplate now.

The conflict between "numbnuts" and obama is political posturing to deceive the homefront and psycwar against Iran and its people. Iran will have to be first weakened before these people would seriously consider pulling an "Iraq war" on them. They simply don't have the ability to neutralise Iran in such a way that they can prevent the conflict causing them more hurt than pleasure. That means more economic warfare and terrorist warfare against them first.

Posted by: вот так | Nov 1 2012 23:50 utc | 38

Cynthia, I guess the effect in the end will be that the Chinese worker will earn the same rate as the US worker if nature can survive that the Chinese worker will consume the same as the US worker.

Posted by: somebody | Nov 2 2012 0:15 utc | 39


One can only hope that all the bluster coming from Tel Aviv is nothing but a high stakes bluff to get the Americans to do Israel's dirty work by conventional means. Whereas the thought of a conventional war with Iran to thwart a non-existent nuclear bomb threat defies all reason, resorting to pre-emptive nuclear strikes is simply too insane to contemplate.

A rational American foreign policy would involve a complete withdrawal of all troops and a closing of all bases, not to mention a total halt to the meddling, spying, coups, and assassinations. No more funding of rebel groups, propping up dictators, or unleashing computer worms. This nonsense needs to stop.

Too bad that America's "choice" next week will have no meaningful impact on Israel's stranglehold on American foreign policy or its complete control of Congress. Relying on Israeli and American military leaders to rein in the rogue regimes that rule them does not exactly inspire confidence.

Posted by: Cynthia | Nov 2 2012 1:20 utc | 40


"....This nonsense needs to stop."

Yes, it does.

Posted by: вот так | Nov 2 2012 1:57 utc | 41

While it is quite well known that Iran has undertaken many iniatives over the years to show and prove that their program is purely non-military, the usa have - willfully - ignored that.

It is also quite well known that the usa will definitely lose one way or the other; the "fun" part will come once it's over.

Iran will have all rights to demand compensation for all dammages done by the criminal usa policies.

Theoretically. Practically, however, the usa, financially too rotten and incapable to repair their own infrastructure, will of course not be in a position to pay.

Would anyone accept us-real estate or companies as compensation?

Possibly the best way to deal with it will be to treat the usa simply as what they are anyway, a pariah nation that should be left alone and starved to insignificance (matching the culture and education of the average american ...). What little is left working and proper can and should be transferred to Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

One might be tempted and look for revenge and think about destroying very old cultural treasures like the usa did in near-east. But what culture might one find in the usa? Exploding burger drive-ins might be funny but hardly satisfactory.

As for israel the only working long-term solution is quite evident: Obliteration.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Nov 3 2012 2:51 utc | 42

@Mr Pragma

Possibly the best way to deal with it will be to treat the usa simply as what they are anyway, a pariah nation that should be left alone and starved to insignificance (matching the culture and education of the average american ...)

It is coming only 8 weeks before the winter solstice, you think if Sandy came after the elections that so much effort would have gone to bring relief to the New Yorkers, maybe where the Jews lived.

Posted by: hans | Nov 3 2012 10:43 utc | 43

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