Iran sanctions vote signals a global rift

The passage this week by the United Nations Security Council of a third set of sanctions against Iran places a spotlight on two trends in the international community’s dispute with Tehran’s nuclear program.

Perhaps most striking is the relative retreat by the United States from leading status among Iran’s accusers, with European powers taking over the helm.

But there is also an emerging rift between some of the world’s developing countries and the big developed powers at the forefront of the effort to impose punitive measures against Tehran. For countries like Indonesia, South Africa, and Libya, which questioned the timing of the new resolution, Iran’s claim of victimhood at the hands of arrogant world powers seeking to control access to vital and lucrative technologies may be starting to resonate.

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Larijani: US promotes global chaos

Iran’s former nuclear negotiator says Washington’s disregard for international laws and agreements is the main cause of global disorder.

Complying with international regulations will never be enough to make the US happy, said Ali Larijani in an interview with the Aljazeera news channel.

Asked about the possibility of a new round of sanctions on Iran Larijani said ‘these measures are initially in deep contrast with our settlement with Mr. Solana in which we agreed to address all outstanding issues regarding our nuclear program through a work plan.’

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Russian energy ties with Iran send US a message

With European and US companies out of the competition, Russia’s Gazprom has an edge as it bids for a bigger role in developing the world’s second-largest gas reserves

AS the United States warns the world away from business with Tehran, Moscow’s tightening ties to Iran’s energy sector underline Russia’s differences with Washington over Iranian nuclear plans and Kosovo’s independence.

While the timing of Moscow’s announcement on Tuesday may have been political, the deal for Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom to take on big new Iranian oil and gas projects was a long time in the making and dovetails with Gazprom’s strategic ambitions, analysts said. Gazprom, the world’s biggest gas producer, will play a larger role in developing Iran’s giant South Pars gas field and will also drill for oil.

“The Russian government and the United States are at loggerheads over how to engage with Iran, with Russia actively favouring a more open relationship,” said Ronald Smith, chief strategist at Alfa Bank. “This makes Gazprom rather indifferent to American policy wishes.” The US accuses Iran of using uranium enrichment to develop weapons, while Tehran says it needs nuclear power. Russia has been reluctant to impose more UN sanctions on Iran.

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War pimp alert: U.S. military contradicts State on Iran: Hundreds of weapons caches found in Iraq

BAGHDAD — Iranian-backed militias are apparently preparing for major strikes against the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, military officials said.

“In just the past week, Iraqi and coalition forces captured 212 weapons caches across Iraq, two of those inside Baghdad, [which have] growing links to Iranian-backed Special Groups,” U.S. military spokesman Rear Adm. Gregory Smith said.

Officials said that despite assertions by the State Department, Iran has maintained or increased support to the Special Groups. The organization was deemed a splinter of the Iranian-financed Mahdi Army, led by Shi’ite cleric Moqtada Sadr, Middle East Newsline reported.

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Iran’s defense spending per capita among lowest in Mideast

LONDON (IRNA) — Iran’s defense expenditure per capita remains among the lowest in the Middle East region despite having the second highest population behind Egypt, according to the new publication of Military Balance.

The 2008 edition said that Iran’s total defense spending for 2006, the latest available, was nearly 55 percent less that Israel’s, despite having ten times the population of the Zionist entity.

Per capita, Israeli regime’s expenditure was calculated to be nearly 17 times higher at an average of $1,737 per person compared with only $110 for each Iranian.

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Update: Ships did not cause Internet cable damage

CAIRO – Damage to undersea Internet cables in the Mediterranean that hit business across the Middle East and South Asia was not caused by ships, Egypt’s communications ministry said on Sunday, ruling out earlier reports.
The transport ministry added that footage recorded by onshore video cameras of the location of the cables showed no maritime traffic in the area when the cables were damaged.

‘The ministry’s maritime transport committee reviewed footage covering the period of 12 hours before and 12 hours after the cables were cut and no ships sailed the area,’ a statement said.
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War pimp alert:U.S. says Iran still training Iraqi militias

By Ross Colvin

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The U.S. military said on Sunday there had been a dramatic drop in the number of Iranian weapons being smuggled into Iraq but no let-up in Tehran’s training and financing of Iraqi militias.

Washington has accused Tehran of supplying Shi’ite militias with sophisticated weapons, including deadly armor-piercing bombs known as explosively formed penetrators (EFPs), to attack American troops. Tehran denies the charge.

“We do believe that the number of signature weapons that have come from Iran … are down dramatically. We do not think levels of training have been reduced at all. We don’t believe levels of financing are reduced,” U.S. military spokesman Rear Admiral Greg Smith told reporters in Baghdad.

His comments come at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the United States after Washington said its warships were threatened by Iranian craft in the Strait of Hormuz earlier this month. The two countries are already at odds over Iran’s determination to pursue a nuclear program.

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