Presure on Iran from Western Govs
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Members of the European Union have adopted an embargo on Iranian oil as part of sanctions over the country's disputed nuclear programme. The EU sanctions, which were approved at a meeting in Brussels on Monday, follow financial punishments signed into law by the US on December 31 last year, and mainly target the oil sector, which accounts for some 90 per cent of Iranian exports to the EU. The oil ban, along with sanctions against Iran's central bank and other measures, came as Western powers stepped up pressure on Iran to return to negotiations amid concerns that it is moving closer to building nuclear weapons. Iran denounced the EU measures, saying that the decision was "unfair" and "doomed to fail". "The method of threat, pressure and unfair sanctions against a nation that has a strong reason for its approach is doomed to fail," Ramin Mehmanparast, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, told the state broadcaster.
The United States is working to gain consensus for tougher sanctions on Iran after the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that the country was engaging in research that could only be used for developing a nuclear trigger. Iran has consequently threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a vital route for oil exports. There is also increased concern that Israel will prepare to take tough measures against Iran. In an article in Foreign Policy , author and historian Mark Perry describes a series of CIA memos revealing a false-flag operation involving Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad. The memos report that Israeli spies posed as American agents to recruit members of Jundallah, a Pakistan-based separatist group, to carry out attacks in Iran.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, has started a diplomatic offensive in Latin America to shore up economic and political ties in the region. Ahmadinejad arrived in Venezuela on Sunday. As part of his five-day tour, he will also visit Ecuador, Nicaragua and Cuba.
It was a show of might that could serve to test the West's patience. Iran said it has successfully test-fired two long-range missiles during military exercises in the Gulf. Just a day earlier, Barack Obama, the US president, signed a law imposing tougher financial sanctions to penalise Iran for its nuclear research programme. Iran responded by threatening to halt oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz – a narrow shipping passage through which one-sixth of the world's oil supply passes – a move the US has made clear it will "not tolerate".
Washington, DC - An article in Tuesday's New York Times suggests that there is a method to the madness of the Republican presidential candidates' hawkish rhetoric on Iran. I had thought that the reason all the Republican candidates (with the exception of Ron Paul) are such noisy warmongers is because that is their natural proclivity - and because it pleases donors (such as Sheldon Adelson, Newt Gingrich's big campaign funder) who base their political choices on Binyamin Netanyahu's desires. But Times reporter Mark Landler suggests that one of the results of this year's conveniently timed Iran crisis is to present President Barack Obama with a choice of two options, either of which the GOP could successfully exploit to defeat him in the election. As Landler points out: