That map is old (dates from November). GHW Bush is not off the coast of Syria. As of Feb 7th they are in the Atlantic Ocean having left Mayport Florida on the 6th of February. http://gonavy.jp/CVLocation.html
Thanks- I was think about that after I wrote my responce. Sorry.
Top Iranian Lawmaker: Consensus On Banning Oil Exports To EU
LONDON (Dow Jones)--There is a consensus in Iran's parliament over a pre-emptive move to ban oil exports to the European Union, a top conservative lawmaker said Tuesday, as the Islamic Republic seek to retaliate against stifling sanctions.
The statements come amid mounting international tensions after Israel accused Iran and its proxy group in Lebanon, Hezbollah, for a bomb attack on an Israeli diplomat in India Monday--a claim Tehran denies.
In remarks to Iran's parliament news website Icana, Omidvar Rezai, a former revolutionary guard and one-time presidential candidate, said the proposal is still being reviewed by the parliament's committees but that there is consensus regarding its approval.
The EU last month agreed to a full embargo on purchases of Iranian oil from July 1 over the country's nuclear program. Iran maintains the program is peaceful.
Iranian lawmakers, in recess until early March, have vowed to interrupt sales immediately, potentially undercutting moves by European refiners to gradually find replacements.
However some companies, like France's Total SA (TOT), have already stopped buying oil from Iran and switched to suppliers such as Saudi Arabia.
Eastern Saudi Arabia is now also affected:
Gunfights in Saudi Oil Province Show Spread of Iran Tensions
Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Armored anti-riot vehicles cluster outside the police station in Awwamiya in Saudi Arabia's oil- producing eastern region, where unrest is turning violent. "We have enough police force to deal with any criminal or prohibited situation," says Brigadier-General Yousef al-Qahtani as he drives through the town. In nearby al-Qatif, graffiti scrawled on a cemetery wall criticizes the Al Saud family, founders of the kingdom eight decades ago, and calls for the removal of their fellow Sunni Muslim monarchs in Bahrain. Black Shiite flags adorn religious centers in the back-alleys.
Clashes between police and armed Shiite protesters in the two towns have intensified since October, when 11 police were injured in an attack. Since then, seven Shiites have been killed by security forces, according to figures provided by Saudi Arabia's Human Rights First Society.
It's in such places that tensions between the Gulf's Sunni nations and Shiite-led Iran may spark violence inside Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter. Shiites here have cultural and family ties with Iran, and also with Bahrain, where Saudi troops helped crush Shiite-led protests that broke out a year ago today. Saudi authorities accuse Iran, which is under growing western pressure to back down over its nuclear program, of stirring up unrest in both cases.
'Much Bigger Fire'
"This is another one of those possible flashpoints in the region that could become a much bigger fire if it is not contained early on," Paul Sullivan, a political scientist specializing in Middle East security at Georgetown University in Washington, said in an e-mail.
After two Shiites were shot dead in gun battles in Awwamiya and al-Qatif last week, the cost of Saudi Arabia's credit default swaps jumped 2 percent to 131.8, before retreating to 129.2 yesterday. They reached a two-and-a-half- year high last month as Iranian threats to block the Strait of Hormuz, in response to a planned western oil embargo, stoked concerns of conflict in a region that supplies a fifth of the world's crude.
Most of that comes from Saudi Arabia, and the biggest Saudi oil fields are in the Eastern Province, home to most of the Saudi Shiite population. It's the second-largest Shiite community in the Gulf after Iraq's, comprising between 10 and 15 percent of the total of 19 million Saudi nationals, according to the U.S. State Department.
Iran denies charges of interference by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, and accuses their Sunni rulers of discriminating against Shiites.
In Bahrain, linked to eastern Saudi Arabia's Shiite regions by a 16-mile (26-kilometer) causeway, protests have also been escalating, in the run-up to today's anniversary. Yesterday, Shiite-led opposition groups accused the security forces of attacking peaceful demonstrations with teargas and stun grenades, while the Interior Ministry said protesters hurled rocks and set fire to private property.
Saudi Arabia largely escaped the unrest that spread across the Arab world last year, though there were protests in Awwamiya, al-Qatif and other eastern towns. Shiite cleric Tawfiq al-Amir was arrested after he called for a constitutional monarchy and equal rights.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran date back to Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini accused Saudi rulers of corruption and argued that the holy sites of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia shouldn't be under a single country's guardianship. In December, the U.S. agreed to sell Saudi Arabia 84 F-15 fighter jets in a $29.4 billion deal seen as bolstering defenses against Iran.
'Card They Can Use'
"To ask if Iran has an interest in destabilizing Saudi Arabia, yes they do," said Khalid al-Dakhil, a political science professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, in a phone interview. "It is a card they can use to pressure the Saudis."
In al-Qatif, the graffiti shows Shiite resentment at their perceived exclusion from the country's wealth. "Where is the oil money?" one slogan asks. Smashed street lights and road signs attest to recent violence in the Gulf city, where wooden dhow boats anchor and families picnic as vehicles carrying riot police speed along the coast road.
The U.S. State Department noted in a human-rights report on Saudi Arabia published in 2009 that Shiites in the kingdom face "significant political, economic, legal, social and religious discrimination condoned by the government."
Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh described practices during the Ashoura festival, a day of mourning for Shiite Muslims, as "against Islamic law" in an article published in Al-Watan newspaper on Dec. 3.
Seventy-four students, mainly Shiites, from the Jubail Industrial College north of al-Qatif called on the government to penalize companies that discriminate in hiring, Safwa News reported on Feb. 3. Their petition criticized Saudi Arabian Mining Co., the kingdom's largest miner, for excluding 60 Shiite students from an employment program. Calls to the company's communications office weren't answered yesterday.
Shiite leaders held meetings with the late King Fahd in 1993 and were promised measures to address the region's grievances. The Eastern Province is benefitting from King Abdullah's $130 billion spending pledges last year, including a new stadium and roads in Awwamiya.
"The majority of people in Qatif, while they do have grievances and quite legitimate demands, they don't believe it is the right way to alleviate their grievances through violence," al-Dakhil said.
Violence, though, has been increasing since October when security forces were fired upon from side streets of Awwamiya. Gun battles between police and demonstrators broke out there and in Qatif on Feb. 9 and 10. "We never experienced shooting at the police before," Colonel Abdullah Aseeri, the police chief of al-Qatif, said in an interview. Brigadier General Yousef, an almost 30-year veteran with the Interior Ministry, said the use of weapons and "endangering the lives and safety of citizens is a red line."
Security forces are displaying more restraint than they have in the past in their response to protests, said Ibrahim al- Mugaiteeb, president of the Human Rights First Society. "A lot of demonstrations happen without a police crackdown," he said.
A delegation of Shiite Muslim scholars and clerics from al- Qatif condemned clashes in November that left four people dead and nine injured, Al-Yaum newspaper reported. They also pledged loyalty to the Al Saud leadership.
Such community elders, seeking to soothe tensions, don't have the traction they used to have, said Tawfiq al-Saif, a prominent Shiite cleric. Young Saudi Shiites, like their contemporaries elsewhere in the Arab world, are demanding change, he said.
"There is the sense of being marginalized in the country among the Shiite young," al-Saif said. "The younger generation feels that it is no longer the role of the leaders or elders to solve their problems. People want promises fulfilled."
Iranian patrol boats shadow US aircraft carrier as it passes through Strait of Hormuz
Iran gold reserves 500 tones, CBI governor
Feb 14 – The governor of the Central Bank of Iran says that the gold reserves of the country were 500 tones and it has offered 60 tons on the domestic market, Mehr news agency reported Tuesday.
Mahmoud Bahamani talking at a seminar on challenges of monetary policies and production added that to meet the demand of the domestic market it has also sold in advance 8 million gold coins which have to be delivered after the Iranian New Year, starting on Mar 21.
There was different announcement over the country’s gold reserves and the latest came from the chairman of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Yahya Ale-Eshagh who claimed two weeks ago the reserves top 907 tones.
Turkey sticks with Iran oil ...
An Ankara-based energy official said: "Turkey will continue
to buy from Iran unless the United Nations supports/endorses the
EU and U.S. oil embargo".
A U.N. embargo against Iran now seems very unlikely after
Russia and China, the biggest buyer of Iranian crude, blocked
U.N. sanctions against Syria.
Turkey's long campaign for EU entry may now be less likely
to influence its stance - its relations with the bloc are at
their lowest point in years and negotiations on membership,
which began in 2005, are stalled with no immediate prospect of
Turkey imports around 200,000 barrels per day of oil from
Iran, covering 30 percent of daily domestic consumption and
representing over 7 percent of Iranian oil exports, and had
renewed its annual purchase agreement for 2012.
Most industry analysts expect China and Turkey to continue
buying the same or increased volumes, despite previous signals
from Ankara it could buy more Saudi oil and reports from Beijing
that some of its firms are reducing purchases.
Traders say they suspect those signals were part of attempts
by both Ankara and Beijing to negotiate lower prices for Iranian
oil. The two countries are unlikely to follow the example of
major Iranian customers South Korea and Japan, which are seeking
to cut purchases to win waivers from U.S. sanctions.
NATO member Turkey has deepened economic and financial ties
with Iran in recent years, despite Western efforts to isolate
the country because they accuse it of trying to develop bombs
under cover of what Tehran says is a nuclear energy programme.
On a diplomatic level, Ankara often presents itself as a
mediator in talks with the Islamic Republic, which it sees as a
balancing force in the region against Israel.
Another Ankara-based oil industry official said Turkey's
sole refiner Tupras was studying alternative crude
purchase options but that did not mean it planned to stop buying
oil from Iran, the second biggest oil exporter in the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
"Tupras gets a really good price from Iran and from their
point of view, there is nothing illegal. They pay through legal
means and as long as that is the case, why would they stop?" he
said, referring to payments via Turkish bank Halkbank.
Further economic warfare is beeing considered:
US, Europe look at fast but risky penalty on Iran
(AP) WASHINGTON — The United States and Europe are considering unprecedented punishment against Iran that could immediately cripple the country's financial lifeline. But it's an extreme option in the banking world that would come with its own costs.
The Obama administration wants Iran evicted from SWIFT, an independent financial clearinghouse that is crucial to the country's overseas oil sales. That would leapfrog the current slow-pressure campaign of sanctions aimed at persuading Iran to drop what the U.S. and its allies contend is a drive toward developing and building nuclear weapons. It also perhaps would buy time for the U.S. to persuade Israel not to launch a pre-emptive military strike on Iran this spring.
The last-resort financial effort suggests the U.S. and Europe are grasping for ways to show immediate results because economic sanctions have so far failed to force Iran back to nuclear talks.
But such a penalty could send oil prices soaring when many of the world's economies are still frail. It also could hurt ordinary Iranians and undercut the reputation of SWIFT, a banking hub used by virtually every nation and corporation around the world. The organization's full name is the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications.
Meanwhile, violence is increasing. Explosions in Bangkok on Tuesday — Israel's defense minister labeled them an "attempted terrorist attack" — came the day after Israel accused Iran of trying to kill its diplomats in India and Georgia. Those attacks followed the recent killings of Iranian scientists.
In the financial world, the United States can't order SWIFT to kick Iran out. But it has leverage in that it can punish the Brussels-based organization's board of directors. Talks are focused now on having Europe make the first move.
Short of total expulsion, Washington and representatives of several European nations are in talks over ways to restrict Iran's use of the banking consortium to collect oil profits.
European action on SWIFT could come quickly.
Representatives from SWIFT were scheduled to meet with European Union officials this week, a U.S. official familiar with the talks said. The official said the meeting was expected to result in the EU ordering SWIFT to expel at least some of its sanctioned banks, though it was unclear whether the order would extend to Iran's Central Bank.
The Obama administration is divided over whether the possible gain is worth the risk in trying to threaten SWIFT into kicking out a member country, in part because of concern that it would set back the global financial recovery. Iran remains a global financial player despite years of banking sanctions, and blocking it from using the respected transfer system would be a black mark like no other.
More than 40 Iranian banks and institutions use SWIFT to process financial transactions, and losing access to that flow of international funds could badly damage the Islamic republic's economy. It would also probably hurt average Iranians more than the welter of existing banking sanctions already in place since prices for household goods would rise while the value of Iranian currency would drop.
Lawyers for SWIFT are holding meetings in Washington. People familiar with the talks say a compromise is possible in which SWIFT would voluntarily bar or restrict Iranian transfers.
But if SWIFT fails to act on its own, the U.S. expects Europe to require it to terminate services for Iranian banks, another Obama administration official said.
The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
David Cohen, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, delivered that message to European Union officials in Brussels earlier this month, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and thus spoke only on the condition of anonymity.
Mark Dubowitz, a sanctions expert advising the White House on Iran, said the Obama administration is having detailed discussions on the merits and consequences of forcing SWIFT to block Iranian transactions.
Some in the administration also prefer to give time for new sanctions on Iran's Central Bank, officially enforced starting just this month, to take hold before layering on a round of even more draconian penalties.
SWIFT was involved in a separate controversy when it was revealed in 2006 that it had skirted the EU's strict privacy laws after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by transferring millions of pieces of personal information from its U.S. offices to American authorities as part of the US Terrorist Finance Tracking Program.
"It is an essential cog in the wheel, if not the wheel itself, in international financial transactions and trade," said David Aufhauser, former general counsel at the Treasury Department who worked with SWIFT to set up that information transfer.
SWIFT handles cross-border payments for more than 10,000 financial institutions and corporations in 210 countries. It lets users exchange financial information securely and reliably, thereby lowering costs and reducing risk. It operates on trust and neutrality — SWIFT accepts nearly all comers and does not judge the merits of the transactions passing through its secure message system. Its managers generally brush off investigators and enforcement agencies, telling them to take up suspected wrongdoing directly with nations or corporations.
Established in 1973, the essential but little-known hub is overseen by major central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank.
Lawyers familiar with SWIFT's operations said it could bar processing actions with any Iranian party or third parties representing Iran, though that would open the consortium to complaints of favoritism or political influence. It could permit the processing but quarantine Iranian transactions, or require warnings to those doing business with Iran. Penalties on Iran short of expulsion could allow SWIFT to preserve a greater appearance of neutrality but make business partners think twice, lawyers said.
Proponents of blocking Iran from SWIFT say the financial network's own bylaws require that its services not be used to facilitate illegal activities and allow it to prohibit users that are subject to sanctions.
While the U.S. and Europe debate options, some American lawmakers are trying to increase pressure on SWIFT. The Senate Banking Committee passed a measure earlier this month directing the White House to press SWIFT to block Iranian entities.
A tougher House bill would compel the administration to sanction SWIFT unless it stopped providing services to Iran.
The pending legislation has caught the attention of officials at SWIFT. The financial network's general counsel and other advisers requested a meeting with congressional lawmakers and staff next week, Senate aides said.
Officials close to the White House say the Obama administration is comfortable with the less restrictive language in the Senate Banking Committee measure, but has concerns that more-binding legislation would leave the U.S. less flexibility in dealing with Iran.
SWIFT did not respond to requests for comment. In a brief statement posted on its website, the consortium said it is committed to fighting misuse of the financial system to finance terrorism and has cooperated with enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Europe.
Without addressing the specifics of a full expulsion or more limited block on Iranian transactions, SWIFT's statement urged caution.
"SWIFT remains committed to maintaining its role as a neutral global financial communications network" while complying with sanctions laws, the statement said.
Global clearinghouse ready to evict Iranian banks
(AP) BRUSSELS - A financial clearinghouse used by virtually every country and major corporation in the world agreed Friday to shut out Iran from its respected network, an unprecedented escalation of global economic pressure to halt Iran’s suspected drive for nuclear weapons. Quicker than a succession of slow-acting economic sanctions, expelling Iran from the banking hub could put a sudden choke hold on its oil-dependent economy. The move was made under strong pressure from the United States and the European Union, which are looking for ways to derail Iran’s nuclear program quickly without a military strike.
"If SWIFT follows through on its public commitment to ban Iranian banks, it could sever the Iranian regime’s financial lifeline," said Mark Dubowitz, an Iran sanctions expert advising the Obama administration. "It would also be a significant political embarrassment for the regime: Iran would be the first country in SWIFT’s history to be expelled from what is the financial equivalent of the United Nations."
The European Union is expected to act within weeks to effectively cut off major Iranian banks from participation in The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, known as SWIFT. It’s a move of last resort, with risks ranging from huge inflation and financial hardship for ordinary Iranians to disruption and price increases on the world oil market. Iran could also retaliate in unpredictable ways.
Some U.S. lawmakers are pushing for sanctions on SWIFT itself if it were to keep up its services to Iran. SWIFT lawyers were coming to Washington next week for meetings with Congress, and Friday’s announcement was widely seen as a way to head off that action.
The Obama administration wants to see Iran barred from using the financial pass-through, which is used by virtually every nation in the world and overseen by major central banks, but it has no direct leverage over SWIFT. Washington was keen to see Europe act first, or to have SWIFT act on its own.
SWIFT said Friday that it stands ready to stop services to sanctioned Iranian financial institutions once it has clarity on what new rules will require.
There are potential avenues for Iran to go around the expected cutoff, but they would be difficult, costly and time-consuming. More than 40 Iranian banks and institutions use SWIFT to process financial transactions, but not all are under European Union sanctions. The new move involving SWIFT is expected to apply first to banks already under sanction.
SWIFT, as a European entity, must comply with EU regulations.
It unclear whether the SWIFT ban would apply only to new transactions with overseas buyers or whether it would prevent payment on existing oil contracts that go through sanctioned Iranian banks. Also uncertain was whether the powerful Central Bank of Iran would be covered at the outset.
Mission impossible? U.S. wants sanctions to hurt only Iran
WASHINGTON: U.S. President Barack Obama hopes the toughest sanctions ever imposed on Iran will squeeze its oil exports – all without scaring markets, crimping growth, impoverishing ordinary Iranians or antagonizing allies.
The geopolitical equivalent of threading a needle is made even more difficult by elections in both the United States and Iran.
Obama’s goal, persuading Iran to curb its nuclear program, seems far from assured.
In recent weeks, United States officials have crisscrossed the globe to meet allies such as Japan and South Korea that rely heavily on Iranian oil and are worried that the new law may hurt their economies.
The U.S. also wants to fend off any dramatic spike in oil prices that could hurt its own economy, the top issue for voters who will decide whether Obama is re-elected in November.
U.S. officials say their talks have been productive so far and stress they are not looking to make enemies of their friends, and so will implement the sanctions with care.
“There is flexibility on the sanctions, countries will make their own financial decisions and the United States will work with them,” Daniel Glaser, assistant secretary for terrorist financing at the U.S. Treasury, said in an interview.
“The goal here is not to punish any individual country, the goal is to target Iran,” he said.
The new law gives Obama the ability to cut off foreign banks, including central banks, from the U.S. financial system if they conduct petroleum-related transactions with Iran’s central bank, the main clearing house for its oil exports.
Yet even before the new sanctions go into effect, evidence is mounting that Western pressure may be hitting some of the wrong targets.
Shipments of grain to Iran – exempt from the sanctions like other humanitarian goods – have been held up because of financial restrictions on Iranian banks that would be handling the transactions.
If previous sanctions efforts elsewhere are any guide, Iran’s elites will find ways to insulate themselves from economic pain imposed from outside.
The director of Defense Intelligence Agency, Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, told Congress Thursday that despite increased pressure on Iran, “Tehran is not close to agreeing to abandoning its nuclear program.”
Still, the sanctions are clearly having some impact.
Iran – which denies Western charges that it is seeking to build nuclear weapons – this week offered what it called “new initiatives” for nuclear talks with world powers. The move was widely seen as a response to mounting economic pain.
In Iran, the riyal currency has weakened sharply to about 20,000 to the U.S. dollar on the black market from about 13,000 before Obama signed the law on Dec. 31, 2011.
“The precipitous drop in the value of the riyal as well as their inability to responsibly manage their economy is the best evidence of the effectiveness of sanctions,” Glaser said.
“Isolating Iran’s central bank from the international financial system will make it difficult for Iran to manage its economy. That, over time, is going to be as important as directly impacting Iran’s oil revenue,” he said.
The United States has not set a specific target, saying only that it wants to see a “significant” reduction in Iran’s oil exports, deliberately leaving that term vague to preserve some latitude.
Analysts say a 20-25 percent reduction in Iran’s oil revenue would show sanctions biting, but some senators say significant means an 18 percent reduction in total payments to Iran for oil.
“I think it is a success if there is a 25 percent reduction in Iranian revenue or exports,” said Frank Verrastro, director of the energy and national security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Facing rising prices for staples such as meat, bread and rice, many Iranians are withdrawing savings to buy increasingly scarce hard currency to preserve their purchasing power as the riyal plummets.
“I think psychology has started to take over, started to take hold perhaps more than is warranted,” said Ken Katzman, a Middle East specialist at the Congressional Research Service. “It’s almost irrelevant whether these fears are unfounded or not because they are creating an economic reality with the fear.”
The new U.S. sanctions go into effect for nonpetroleum transactions with the Iranian central bank on Feb. 29 and for oil-related transactions on June 28. That is aimed at giving Iran’s oil customers – China, the European Union, Japan, India, South Korea and Turkey top the list – time to adapt, and to avoid whipping up oil prices.
“The United States continues to talk to buyers of Iranian oil about their energy needs and alternate sources with the goal being a significant, steady reduction in oil purchases from Iran over time, but it won’t happen all at once,” Glaser said.
“We need to understand what’s in the realm of the possible, and it is unrealistic to apply one standard to all countries. This is going to have to be done on a case-by-case basis.”
Glaser spoke with Reuters before traveling to Oman, Qatar and Russia last week to discuss the sanctions and other issues.
Verrastro, a former energy official, said while the U.S. administration wants sanctions to have a meaningful impact, it may tolerate some “leakage” if it keeps oil markets calm. “I think they want some leakage, because they are also trying to mitigate huge price spikes. So it doesn’t have to be 100 percent effective,” he said.
The United States is hoping that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other oil producers will help fill the gap created by restrictions on Iranian oil.
But the long phasing-in of the U.S. sanctions gives Iran time to devise strategies for evading them and Iran is considered adept at subterfuge to reroute its trade. “If you target one bank they’ll try to use another untargeted bank,” said Glaser.
Similarly, Reuters reported this week how the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, while blacklisted by the United Nations, continues to move cargo using a web of shell companies and diverse ownership.
But trying to evade sanctions raises the cost of doing business for Iran, U.S. officials say.
And Tehran faces a much more united front than it has before. For years, Germany and other leading members of the European Union were slow to heed U.S. calls for tougher sanctions on Iran. Now, the EU has decided to cut off imports of Iranian oil by midyear.
Diplomats said Europeans overcame their historical resistance to imposing harsh sanctions on Iran because of a belief that Obama genuinely pursued diplomacy when he first came into office, the reality that talks have led nowhere and the fear that Israel might attack Iran’s nuclear sites.
“The Europeans could no longer just continue to say ‘Oh we have to give diplomacy a chance here,’” said a diplomat from one of the major powers seeking to negotiate with Iran.
“If we are serious about stopping them from getting a nuclear weapons program – and I think everybody is – this was inevitably where it was going to go,” he said.
Still, a Western diplomat said he expected no major movement on the nuclear issue from Iran either before or directly after its parliamentary elections next month, saying there was “paralysis in Tehran” caused by jockeying for power.
An American expert on Iran said the White House might prefer no negotiations this year because Obama’s political opponents could criticize the president as soft on Tehran for holding talks, especially if discussions faltered.
An unstated goal of the new sanctions is to demonstrate to Israel and the U.S. Congress that Obama is serious about putting pressure on Tehran, in an effort to persuade Israel not to strike Iran’s nuclear sites.
The fear of war breaking out following Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz or an Israeli airstrike has led countries to see sanctions as the lesser hardship.
“The impact of that is far greater than the Japanese, South Koreans or Greeks having to find new supplies of oil,” said Juan Zarate, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“People are willing to contemplate the costly boomerang effects and are willing to absorb them in a way that they might not have five years ago.”
But whether the sanctions prompt Iran to change course remains an open for debate.
“The great irony in all this is that the policy is working, but I don’t think it’s going to work,” said Ken Pollack, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.
“The problem is that it feels like the regime doesn’t care. The regime is willing to absorb all of this damage,” Pollack said.
“They may simply be impervious.”
Wean from Iranian crude, US tells India, Pakistan
Washington: Washington has said it was talking to India, Pakistan, Russia, and China about what they can do to "wean themselves" from Iranian crude as the US imposed new sanctions against Tehran.
"We are engaged in conversations with all of these governments with regard to the importance of implementing existing international sanctions, national sanctions," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Friday when asked about several countries still doing business with Iran.
It was also talking to them about "doing what they can to increase sanctions, particularly to wean themselves from Iranian crude. So this is a process, it's still going on", she said.
But as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday, "We do assess that the pressure, economic and diplomatic, on Iran is beginning to pinch. And you see the fruit of that, and the fact that we - after many months, have Iran suggesting that we go back to the table", Nuland said.
Asked about Pakistan saying that it is going ahead with the construction of the gas pipeline between Iran and Pakistan, she said: "We have issues of concern and we've been very clear about those with the government of Pakistan."
"We think it's a bad idea; we've made that clear. But I'm not going to predict where this might go."...
And here comes Pakistan:
We will make Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline: Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani
KARACHI: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani asserted on Saturday that Pakistan will make the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, while speaking to the media in Karachi.
Pakistan is currently facing mounting pressure from the US to shelve the Iran pipeline project, while Pakistan and Iran have already signed a sovereign-guarantee agreement on the project.
The prime minister said that a rise in oil prices in Pakistan was due to a rise in the international prices and the global recession, and gave his assurance that the Speaker had formed a committee on the issue and will hold talks with the finance minister.
Premier Gilani also commented on the US Congressman’s resolution in the House on the Balochistan issue, and said that it was against the sovereignty of the country. “We strongly condemn the US Congressman’s move,” he said.
In view of the on-going trilateral meeting between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, Gilani said that it was “extremely important” for the stability of the region that all the neighbouring countries were in a good relationship with each other.
“We want to have good relations with all our neighbours, be it China, Afghanistan, Iran or India,” he added.
Pakistani president pledges support for Iran against foreign aggression
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari pledged support for Iran if it is invaded by foreign forces, reported local media Geo on Friday.
The privately-owned local Urdu TV channel quoted unidentified sources as saying that the Pakistani president made the pledge during his meeting with the visiting Iranian president who arrived here on Thursday for a two-day Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran trilateral summit.
The report said that the Pakistani president told Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Pakistan will not provide base to the United States if it intends to attack Iran and it will support Iran against any foreign aggression.
The report did not mention at what occasion the Pakistani president said this to the Iranian president.