People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 25

June 20, 2010

Iran Sanctions:

US Steps up Confrontation


THE UN Security Council has adopted a resolution imposing the fourth round of sanctions on Iran. The United States succeeded in getting the four other permanent members to back the resolution. By this step, the US and the Western powers have signalled that rather than engaging with Iran on the nuclear issue confrontation will be their path. The sanctions are targeted at Iran’s military and nuclear industry. It also extends sanctions on individuals and entities.  Around 40 more companies have been blacklisted.


What is surprising is that these sanctions have come immediately after the successful diplomatic initiative by Brazil and Turkey in getting an agreement with Iran whereby the latter agreed to transfer 1200 kilograms of low enriched uranium fuel to Turkey. This would be held in escrow till Iran receives processed nuclear fuel for the Teheran Research Reactor for medical purposes. President Lula of Brazil and Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey visited Teheran to get this agreement through. This agreement was on the lines proposed by the US through the IAEA in October 2008.


The United States decried the agreement as not good enough.  It announced that the resolution on sanctions will be put before the Security Council.  That the United States was going back on its own stand and proposal became clear when the letter sent by President Obama to President Lula was released by the Brazilian government. In that letter as recent as April 20, 2010, Obama refers to his meeting with Lula and Erdogan during the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.  In the letter Obama clearly states that: “For us, Iran’s agreement to transfer 1200 kg of Iran’s low enriched uranium (LEU) out of the country would build confidence and reduce regional tensions by substantially reducing Iran’s LEU stockpile”. Further the letter states, “There is a potentially important compromise that has already been offered. Last November, the IAEA conveyed to Iran our offer to allow Iran to ship its 1200 kg of LEU to a third country – specifically Turkey – at the outset of the process to be held “in escrow” as a guarantee during the fuel production process that Iran would get back its uranium if we failed to deliver the fuel.”


Yet when Brazil and Turkey got Iran to agree to precisely this proposal, the United States backed out. President Obama has come out in a bad light in this episode. The argument advanced by the US is that at the time of the offer in October 2008, 1200 kg represented three quarters of Iran’s low enriched uranium stock and since then it has produced more. So, now, 1200 kg represents only half the stock. This is putting out an argument for arguments sake to scuttle the agreement.  This agreement would have meant the beginning of an arrangement and a dialogue to settle outstanding issues with the IAEA.


The sanctions resolution was not unanimous in the Security Council. It was opposed by Brazil and Turkey who voted against and Lebanon who abstained. China got some of wider ranging sanctions deleted; it did not agree to sanctions in the energy sector.  Questions will remain why the permanent members, apart from the Western powers, supported this resolution after the Tehran agreement provided the opening to break the stalemate.


This current episode speaks a lot about the Obama administration’s Middle-East policy. It continues the policy of outright support to Israel despite expressing reservations on the extension of the illegal settlements. It was muted in regretting the attack on the Gaza flotilla and the loss of lives and is against any international probe into the matter. Finally, it is keeping pace with Israel’s implacable hostility to Iran.


India had gone on record that it does not think sanctions are the way to tackle the problem. But India had fallen in line with the United States whenever Iran was targeted in the IAEA. It is the IAEA resolution which opened the way for sanctions by the Security Council. The US keeps patting India on the back for this stance. As a result of US pressure, India backed out of finalising the Iran gas pipe line project. Even now the UPA government should realise that India’s true interest lies in strengthening relations with Iran and extending our economic and trade ties especially in the energy sector. India should find ways to pursue this course without the sanctions becoming a hindrance.