Thursday, October 25, 2007

US Designates, Sanctions, Iran Guards Force & Banks

By Cernig

Well, we knew this one was coming:
The Bush administration imposed sweeping new sanctions against Iran Thursday - the harshest in nearly three decades - cutting off key Iranian military and banking institutions from the American financial system for Tehran's alleged support for terrorism and nuclear weapons ambitions.

In the broadest U.S. unilateral penalties on Iran since the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979, the administration slapped sanctions on Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, a main unit of its defense ministry, three of its largest banks and eight people that it said are engaged in missile trade and back extremist groups throughout the Middle East.
The Counterterrorism blog fills in the exact details:
Today, the State Department designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) for their proliferation activities. The Treasury Department also designated numerous Iranian parties for proliferation concerns: nine IRGC-affiliated entities and five IRGC-affiliated individuals; two state-owned banks, Bank Melli (its biggest) and Bank Mellat; and three individuals affiliated with Iran's Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO). The Treasury Department also designated the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) under for providing material support to the Taliban in Afghanistan and other terrorist organizations, and also designated Iran's state-owned Bank Saderat as a terrorist financier. Moreover, elements of the IRGC and MODAFL were listed in the Annexes to U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747, which leads to a freeze on their assets by all member nations.
Now, back to the AP for some ridiculous Bushie spin:
At the same time, they stressed that offers for negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program remain on the table and that the sanctions are not a sign of imminent military action. The U.S. officials insist - over Iranian denials - that the nuclear program is a cover for atomic weapons development.

"Unfortunately, the Iranian government continues to spurn our offer of open negotiations, instead threatening peace and security," through its nuclear program, production and export of ballistic missiles and backing for Shia insurgents in Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, Rice said.
That's one seriously brass neck you have there, Condi. The US position is that it won't enter face-to-face open negotiations unless Iran suspends enrichment - which is demanding the end-point of negotiations as a start point, hardly good faith, as well as denying Iran its right under the NPT.

The IAEA continues to say it has no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. Iran is a supporter of groups designated as terrorists by much of the Western world - which is a legitimate grievance against Iran - but then again so does Pakistan, and more so, and Pakistan already is a nuclear state. But we don't see sanctions against Pakistan - we see military aide. For much of the rest of the world, this only serves to illustrate American exceptionalism - the rules don't apply when the US doesn't want them to.

We don't see Mitt Romney proposing "bombardment" of Pakistan:
``If for some reasons they continue down their course of folly toward nuclear ambition, then I would take military action if that's available to us,'' Romney told a crowd of doctors and nurses during a question period that followed a health care speech.

He added: ``That's an option that's on the table. And it's is not something which we'll spell out specifically. I really can't lay out exactly how that would be done, but we have a number of options from blockade to bombardment of some kind. And that's something we very much have to keep on the table, and we will ready ourselves to be able to take, because, frankly, I think it's unacceptable for Iran to have nuclear weapons.''
But other than the sociopathic right, most have reacted negatively to this new example of Bush administration willingness to abandon rhetoric about international co-operation as soon as things don't go the White House's way.
Said former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards: ``I learned a clear lesson from the lead-up to the Iraq War in 2002: If you give this president an inch, he will take a mile and launch a war. Senator Clinton apparently learned a different lesson.''

...In a statement Thursday, presidential rival Chris Dodd echoed Edwards' argument.

``The aggressive actions taken today by the administration absent any corresponding diplomatic action is exactly what we all should have known was coming when we considered our vote on the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, and smacks, frankly, of a dangerous step toward armed confrontation with Iran,'' Dodd said.
Even some Republicans are unhappy:
Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel says the new, unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran will not work and will only drive the Iranians closer together.

The Republican says unilateral sanctions rarely succeed and that direct engagement is the way to deal with Iran.
Putin sees a maniac push for violence:
"Why worsen the situation and bring it to a dead end by threatening sanctions or military action," Putin said in a veiled reference to the U.S. push for harsher international sanctions against Tehran.

"Running around like a madman with a razor blade, waving it around, is not the best way to resolve the situation," the Russian leader said.
Which statement comes ominously close to rumors that Putin told Iran that Russia will involve itself should the US unilaterally attack.

Maybe Putin is just suffering from BDS, but somehow I peg him as a more calculating type than that. It's just possible that he is worried about America's belligerent attitude, realising along with Kevin Hayden that "sanctions are not diplomacy and assertions aren't evidence." Like Kevin, he may just see today's action as state-sponsored unilateral hijacking of assets that sets a dangerous precedent for future US action against other states - including his own. It isn't as if the Cheneyites have been circumspect about their intentions to shift the blame from one target to another - and Moscow has certainly been on their radar as one of their targets.

That's all speculation, of course, if a reasonable reading of pasts statements. Those of us outwith the innermost administration circle would all do well to harbour some sceptical uncertainty about the Bush administrations long-term aims for Iran. At the very least because the experience of the lead up to invading Iraq demands it.

But as usual, there are some folks, not too far distant from a big white building in Washington D.C., who will make out like bandits from all the uncertainty.
Crude oil for December delivery rose $1.88, or 2.2 percent, to $88.98 a barrel at 12:11 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures climbed to $89.10, the highest since reaching a record $90.07 on Oct. 19. Oil is up 45 percent from a year ago.

Brent crude oil for December settlement rose $1.75, or 2.1 percent, to $86.12 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. Brent reached $86.32, the highest since trading began in 1988.

``The U.S. has had sanctions against Iran since 1979 and it's not like we are just hearing for the first time about Turkey's intention to rout the Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq,'' said Tim Evans, an analyst with Citigroup Global Markets Inc. in New York. ``What the headlines do is keep these issues front and center for anyone trading in this market.''

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