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September 1, 2014 / 6 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘sanctions’

Hitting Back: Israel Threatens EU Prestige and Success with Pullout

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

In response to the EU directive that attacked Israel’s sovereign rights and claims over the land of Israel, Israel has taken its first retaliatory step.

According to a report in Ma’ariv, Israel has threatened to pull out of the EU’s massive science and technology project, “Horizon 2020″.

Israel is the only non-European full partner in the project, and is supposed to invest 600 million Euro (785 million US dollars) in the project over 7 years.

Besides the financial hit the EU project would take as a result, the move would be a serious blow to the project’s prestige and success. Israel is a central partner in the projects that Horizon 2020 undertakes, and part of these project’s successes are dependent on Israeli human resources and research.

When announcing their anti-Israeli directive, the EU thought they had Israel over the barrel, but the EU overestimated their power, as Israel clearly has plenty of powerful ammunition it can fire back in return.


Iran Still Imports $18.6 Million of US Goods in Two Months

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

American sanctions on trade with Iran have enough exceptions that the Islamic Republic imported from the United States 4,000 tons of goods valued at $18.6 million in the last two months, Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported Tuesday.

Iran measures the two-month period from March 21, the beginning of its calendar year. The imports of approximately 4,000 tons of goods included packed butter, pharmaceutical and food complementary products, alloy sheets, vegetable seeds, antibiotics, and medical equipment

The news agency also said that in the same period, Iran exported to the United States 42 tons of goods worth $106,000, mainly carpets, saffron, and raisin.

Kerry Beats the Drum for Talks on Iran but War Drums Grow Louder

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told ABC that Iran’s failure to negotiate makes “confrontation more possible,” and hours later, the American delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) accused Iran of “deception, defiance and delay” while it enriches uranium.

Kerry has jumped into his new position with the full character of the State Dept. to solve the world’s problems with talk, but the unusually harsh comments from Joseph Macmanus, the chief U.S. delegate to the IAEA, indicates that the noose is tightening around Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

So far, he seems to believe that the United States is bluffing about a military strike and is making a show to keep Israel quiet.

However, the more the Obama administration, sees Iranian nuclear capability as a threat to the United States, the closer everyone gets to the red line to talk with action and not words.

“I’m not going to get into red lines and timing publicly except to reiterate what the president has said again and again, which is he prefers to have a diplomatic solution,” Kerry told ABC News in Qatar.

“If they keep pushing the limits and not coming with a serious set of proposals or are prepared to actually resolve this, obviously, the risks get higher and confrontation becomes more possible,” he said.

Joseph Macmanus’ comment blew holes into the recent complacency of the international community, which was soothed by Iran’s expression of being interested in  proposals by the world’s six powers.

Even the European Union appears to be getting fed up with Iran.

The EU told the IAEA board in Vienna Wednesday that it “considers … Iran’s procrastination to be unacceptable.”

Iran has refused IAEA requests to visit the Parchin military site, where satellite pictures have shown explosive tests probably were carried out for  nuclear weapons capability.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said this week, not for the first time, that Iran is using the negotiations and talks of negotiations as a camouflage for its nuclear weapons program.

Tehran, of course, insists its nuclear development is only for peace and is counting on more talks to erase any American red lines.

“We are committed to continue our dialogue with the IAEA but at the same time we can’t give a blank check” because of Iran’s national security concerns, Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told reporters in Vienna.

Kerry notwithstanding, louder voices are being increasingly heard from the most senior American officials.

Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate committee on Tuesday, “I’m paid to take a rather dim view of the Iranians, frankly.”

Looking at the future of a military strike, he stated, “There are number of means to do that, perhaps even short of open conflict. But certainly that’s one of the options that I have to have prepared for the president.”

Head of US Central Command: Iran Sanctions Useless

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

It’s official: the U.S. approach of mixing sanctions and diplomatic outreach in order to persuade Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program is not getting the job done. So testified the top U.S. commander in the Middle East before a Senate committee on Tuesday, describing the Iranian side as using denial and deceit while it continues “enriching uranium beyond any plausible peaceful purpose.”

Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, warned that he believes Iran is using the endless, ongoing negotiations simply to buy time, AP reported.

“That should not be in any way construed as we should not try to negotiate. I still support the direction we’re taking,” Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I’m just — I’m paid to take a rather dim view of the Iranians, frankly.”

Mattis’ no-nonsense view should work like a bucket of icy water poured over any Western diplomat’s remaining delusions regarding the course of sanctions and talks. In fact,

Continuing international worries and uncertainty over the purpose of Iran’s enrichment programs. Tehran denies any work on, or interest in, nuclear weapons, but international leaders believe its uranium enrichment is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Yukiya Amano, the director general of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Monday that he cannot guarantee that Iran’s nuclear activities are peaceful. Not as long as Tehran remains uncooperative and inspectors are not allowed access to sites where they believe work on weapons development is taking place.

The Obama administration has not ruled out—at least theoretically—using military action to prevent Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon. Gen. Mattis told senators that the U.S. military has the capability of forcing Iran to shut down its nuclear business.

“There are number of means to do that,” he said, “perhaps even short of open conflict. But certainly that’s one of the options that I have to have prepared for the president.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., asked what the U.S. needs to do to prove that it is serious that it will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran.

“I fear that if they (Iran) continue to use negotiations to delay, that we will be at a point where they have nuclear-weapons capability, and then it’s too late,” she said.

Gen. Mattis pointed out that Iran is still dangerously involved in the civil war in Syria, backing the Bashar Assad regime against rebel forces, and that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is directly involved in the fighting, with assistance from foreign mercenaries.

The General said chemical weapons sites in Syria are more vulnerable today, even after some of the weapons have been stored in more secure locations.

“Our planning is taking this into account to the degree that it can. And I’ll just tell you that we have options prepared,” he said.

Gen. Mattis noted that should the Assad regime fall, it would cause the “biggest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years.” Assad’s collapse, Mattis believes, would push Iran to arm and fund militias inside Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Asked about arming the rebels seeking to overthrow Assad, Mattis said he was troubled by the fact that a “significant minority” of the rebel forces has extremist Islamic views and are linked to al-Qaida.

The Rotten fruits of Boycotts: Meet Zimbabwe, Formerly Rhodesia

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

An AFP report says that “after paying public workers’ salaries last week, the balance in cash-strapped Zimbabwe’s government public account stood at just $217,” according to the country’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

“Last week when we paid civil servants there was $217 [left] in government coffers,” Biti told journalists in the capital Harare, essentially telling them that each one of them was richer than Zimbabwe.

“The government finances are in paralysis state at the present moment. We are failing to meet our targets.”

Zimbabwe’s economy hit rock bottom back in 2000, as a result of President Robert Mugabe seizing of white-owned farms. If there was any confidence on the part of world investors at that juncture, the “liberation” of those farms caused it to evaporate completely. Production was paralyzed, displaced owners started suing for their reparations, and tourism all but stopped.

The country has not recovered. After 13 years of a hyper-inflation of 231 million percent (nothing compares to it in human history) and a collapsing infrastructure — the best one can say is that things are staying as bad as they have been – but no longer getting any worse, either.

That means the country is paralyzed, no one in government knows if they’re getting their next paycheck, utilities, like electricity, are erratic, nothing’s working.

Elections are coming up, but the government is saying it doesn’t have the money to pay for it.

As you may recall, Zimbabwe reached its independence from its white colonialists in 1980, after 26 years of increasing sanctions and boycotts against what used to be known as Rhodesia. It took enormous world effort, and a lot of earnest volunteer work to bring Rhodesia down to its knees. And as the white colonialists were first deprived of their claim to govern, and eventually of their claim to anything at all – Zimbabwe was going into its tailspin.

Robert Mugabe, who won the presidency by a landslide in 1980, still rules, and the country is vying for some nice Europeans—they’ll take Chinese, too—to please come and take over again, through renewed investments.

It’s a lesson of what happens to the folks that nice Europeans and Americans try to save by boycotting the goods made by “their oppressors.” I don’t know of a more surefire way of turning those oppressed totally wretched.

Debating on Iranian TV – And More (Video)

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

I appeared on “Press TV,” the Iranian-government’s English-language television channel on a show someone with a sense of humor called “News Analysis.” The 25-minute show was the most hare-brained and loony of my 35 years going on television.

 

The ostensible topic was the just-signed $633-billion “National Defense Authorization Act” and specifically its section 1248, “Impositions of Sanctions with Respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting” i.e., sanctions on Press TV itself.

In fact, thanks to the selection as fellow panelists of two left-wing conspiracy theorists, Kevin Barrett and Joe Iosbaker, the show barely touched on anything so mundane as NDAA section 1248. Instead, the audience was treated to such tidbits as 9/11 having been a “pro-Israel coup d’état” and the U.S. government running torture chambers all over the world. Indeed, viewers would have heard me accused of being a torturer.

Watch it for a trip to the fringe.

Although not good for my dignity, I appear on channels like Press TV because they provide an opportunity to reach those who normally would not hear me. I tend to think they are worth the trouble.

Originally posted at DanielPipes.org on January 5, 2013 as “Debating Press TV – And Much More.”

Iran, Syria and Sanctions-Busting Fakery

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Inevitably, Iran and Syria are gaming international maritime communications.  Both nations are under sanctions.  Both appear to be faking registry in Tanzania.  And Iran is transmitting false signals to hide the operations of Syrian cargo ships.

The fakery by the two countries’ merchant fleets has Tanzania in common –apparently as a victim – but it also has Libya.  Twenty years of peace dividends for the West, combined with the Arab Spring of 2011, have changed the security picture on Africa’s perimeter, and the direction in some segments of it is backward, to an age of little surveillance and expanding lawlessness.  Libya’s coast is one such segment.  Even if the surveillance forces of NATO are watching in the central Mediterranean, it’s not clear that the focus is there to ensure useful intelligence collection, or that there’s an organized will to do much about tankers or cargo vessels that head, on the sly, into and out of Libya.

And so, this fall, Iranian ships have been transmitting fake signals that make it appear as if they are operating in both the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, to cover the tracks of Syrian ships going back and forth between Syria and Libya.  In a tracking system, this looks like an error of some kind.  The ship in the Mediterranean is actually the Syrian ship, but in global tracking systems, there is no record of the Syrian ship making the voyage.

Meanwhile, actual Iranian tankers are shutting off their automated reporting systems as they approach Libya, and leaving them off until they have departed Libyan ports.  Peripheral evidence of this has been noted by journalists like Claudia Rosett (I wrote about it here), but the analysis reported by Reuters on 7 December provides the first specific confirmation that Iranian ships are shutting their Automated Information Systems (AIS) off to avoid being tracked into and out of Libyan ports.

The likelihood that arms have been shipped from Libya to Syria by this method is high enough to be considered a certainty – and, of course, the arms would have gone to Bashar al-Assad.  He is Iran’s protégé, and Iranian solicitude for Syrian shipping is devoted to bolstering his chances.  The irony here is obvious, as there have also been plenty of reports of arms shipments from Libya to the Syrian rebels, some of which may have been facilitated by the US mission in Benghazi.  The possibility that arms for Libya also got packed off to Assad himself cannot be discounted.

Beyond the arms route to Syria, however, the behavior of the Iranian ships is worth highlighting.  As discussed in October, several Iranian ships have made a habit for some months now of lingering off Libya’s coast.  (My own searches on ship-tracking websites show that they have been there since at least April 2012, and probably longer.)  The ships’ tracks don’t show visits to Libyan ports, but as the Reuters report indicates, the ships are making such visits.  They simply aren’t letting the visits be recorded via their AIS.

Given the arms-intensive nature of the cargo flow through Benghazi, in particular, we should keep in mind that there’s more than one way to deliver arms – and more than one customer to deliver them to.  Coastal freighters, yachts, and other small ships do cargo business at sea with larger ships the world over.  Egypt, Libya, and Algeria have long coastlines and poorly funded maritime security forces.  A ship could prowl one of their coasts for a long time, loading and offloading small cargo at sea.

This kind of primitive, under-the-radar method might not be the most effective way to arm Assad, but Iran has other clients, and Hezbollah is the one that would most obviously benefit from operating this way.  When the Israelis get wind of a big shipment to Lebanon, they interdict it.  But, operating with a very low profile, Hezbollah could get cargo piecemeal into Beirut.

The Mediterranean is not constantly patrolled by NATO anymore.  Even if it were, the will to lock it down may not be there.  Sanctions on Saddam’s Iraq gave the world a good example of how these things go when the Western nations don’t perceive an immediate threat to themselves.  Sanctions are put in place, and there is some effort made to enforce them, but little is done about the ingenious methods of sanctions evasion that promptly spring up.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/iran-syria-and-sanctions-busting-fakery/2012/12/09/

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