It’s time to end the sanctions against Iran

By   /   October 7, 2013  /   16 Comments

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The real barrier to a settlement is a hard-right faction within the Washington establishment, which basically sings to the tune of the Israeli government.

It’s good to see President Obama making some moves to normalize relations with Iran.

Hopefully, the reapproachment will also end the sanctions which have so hurt ordinary Iranians. The sanctions have dramatically increased prices, partly because a drop in the value of the Iranian currency, and party because of it has been so difficult to transfer money to pay for imports. Iran’s banks have been excluded from the SWIFT exchange, which carries most of the world’s financial transactions.

In his UN speech (and other public comments) the new Iranian president has made it clear his country does not want nuclear weapons and seeks good relations with America.

The ball is in Obama’s court now, because it’s pretty obvious there are no irresolvable problems, at least on the nuclear front. Iran is willing to have its nuclear energy sites subject to international inspection, and it shouldn’t be too difficult to reach an agreement on the amount of enriched uranium it stockpiles. Over three years ago Iran signed an agreement with Turkey and Brazil to store some of its enriched uranium in Turkey, but this deal was scuttled by a hostile US administration. It’s encouraging that Iran is open to such deals, because under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Iran (like every other signatory) is permitted to enrich and store uranium – as do Japan, Germany, etc.

The real barrier to a settlement is a hard-right faction within the Washington establishment, which basically sings to the tune of the Israeli government. Both this Washington faction and the Israeli government scaremonger about the danger of Iran going nuclear, but their main concerns are actually non-nuclear. Israel’s strategic aim is to weaken Iran, because it is such a strong pro-Palestinian Middle Eastern power. If Israel was interested in Iran becoming freer it would welcome the overtures from the new Iranian president and his advocacy of democratic reform. Instead the Israeli leaders lambast Hassan Rhouhani as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

There is hypocrisy all over the place. We are supposed to get all worried about Iran’s nuclear intentions, even though there is no evidence it has a nuclear programme. Yet Israel itself has the bomb. Iran supports UN motions for a nuclear-free Middle East, which Israel and the United States oppose. America insists on inspections of Iranian facilities, yet neither Israel or the US will allow inspection of its own nuclear facilities.

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  1. YogiBare says:

    Iran hasn’t invaded any countries during modern history, if only the U.S. could make the same claim. Despite the fact their democratically elected leader was overthrown by a CIA backed coup, they are still prepared to negotiate with the very nation that installed the despot Shah. It seems to me that one should be more worried about U.S. and Israeli intentions than Iran’s.
    Talking of U.S. sanctions, it’s high time those against Cuba were lifted.

    • Merrial says:

      @ Yogibare: Hear hear! Including the lifting of sanctions on Cuba: long overdue.

    • Gosman says:

      The US is well within it’s right to place restrictions on Cuba. I personally think they are counter-productive as what will defeat totalitarian communist dictatorships like Cuba is the free market but the US is a sovereign nation and can decide who they wish to trade with and how.

      • YogiBare says:

        @ Gosman
        As you say the US has the right to impose sanctions again Cuba, even if other people find these sanctions morally abhorrent. For that reason the UN General Assembly has passed twenty-one resolutions against these sanctions between 1992 and 2012, with Israel being the only country voting with the US on each occasion. The Marshall Islands, Palau, Uzbekistan, Albania, Romania and Paraguay have occasionally voted with the US, but the US have never had more than 3 other votes against on any of the 21 resolutions. I would argue that the US using their Security Council veto to block all these resolutions is reprehensible, especially when a 2009 poll showed that a majority of their own citizens were in favour of ending the embargo.
        We all know that Israel backs the US because it also uses its Security Council veto to insure there’s no justice for the Palestinians.
        Perhaps you could also explain why the US “War on Terror” doesn’t include the exiled nationals who the Cuban government blame for the bombing of Cubana flight 455 on October 6, 1976, which took the lives of all 73 people on board.

      • Merrial says:

        @ Gosman: you don’t really believe this, do you? I wonder if you’re aware of the history of the sanctions regime imposed on Cuba. It’s another example of unbelievable pettiness on the part of the US, when it perceives its interests to have been challenged or threatened (see also Iran, New Zealand).

        Cuba has never posed an existential threat to the US: it’s far too small. And before you quote the Soviet Union’s proposal to build missile installations there – which triggered the missile crisis of 1962 – I suggest you go read Noam Chomsky’s analysis of the issue, based on papers declassified in the 1990s or thereabouts. By the way, sanctions against Cuba were already in place by the time of the above-mentioned crisis.

        • YogiBare says:

          @ Merrial
          It would seem you have a better grasp on history than our Quisling gosling friend!
          It sent a shiver down my spine when I read the disobedience of one Russian submarine skipper was all
          that stood between us and nuclear destruction.

        • Gosman says:

          I don’t think the sanctions are a good idea but no amount of UN resolutions are going to force a nation to trade with another nation. That is a gross infringement of domestic sovereignty. Strangely many lefties would have a massive problem if an international body required NZ to allow another nations access to NZ markets and capital. If Cuba wants access to the US markets perhaps they should ditch the brutal communist dictatorship in charge.

          • Yogibare says:

            I suppose you don’t feel that the TTP, which we are told will be signed in secret soon, will be “a gross infringement of domestic sovereignty” …”to allow another nations access to NZ markets and capital”.

            • Gosman says:

              The TPPA is an agreement (note the word agreement) between sovereign nations. What is being advocated here is that the US should be forced to trade with Cuba. It is completely different.

              • What if a US company would like to sell to Cuba, but can’t because a bunch of people who can’t even spell communism – much less explain what it means – insist that everyone indulge their persistent belief in McCarthyist fairy tales? And what about American citizens who would like to enjoy business opportunities (admittedly limited, but present nonetheless) trading with Cuba?

                • Gosman says:

                  Now you are starting to think like a libertarian CJ. The views you expressed are exactly the same views behind most FTA’s. However the reality is trade isn’t free in most places and restrictions on trade are a legitimate exercise of national sovereignty. If there are enough people wanting to trade with Cuba in the US then they will convince the politicians to change. At the moment there is obviously not enough.

  2. Gosman says:

    A question for Mr Locke. How come Iran has far more centrifuge’s than required to enrich nuclear fuel to a standard necessary for commercial electricity generation but that is required to take it to the next step of weapons grade?

    • YogiBare says:

      “Major technical problems in Iran’s nuclear program have forced the temporary shutdown of thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium at Iran’s Natanz plant, diplomats told The Associated Press on Monday.The sources said they did not have further details but suspicions focused on the Stuxnet worm, the computer virus which has recently plagued Iran’s nuclear program, and is believed by many observers to have been unleashed by the US or Israel”.

      The above news quote may explain why Iran needs so many centrifuges.

      • Merrial says:

        @ Yogibare: exactly so. The rest of the world ought to be far more concerned about US and Israeli sabotage in Iran,than about anything Iran’s done in the last century and more.

      • Gosman says:

        Really??? Are you that naive to think they have inbuilt redundancy of many magnitudes into their civillian nuclear programme just in case of a cyber attack? You are aware this costs a huge amount of scarce money and makes the whole programme incredibly suspect don’t you? It would be much more cost effective and less diplomatically damaging to simply beef up IT security.

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