January 21, 2006

what could happen next?

according to Dr Alireza Nourizadeh, a prominent London-based Iranian analyst who follows the latest developments in Iran's nuclear program closely. Yesterday, in his weekly Persian TV program, Dr Nourizadeh predicted Russians and Chinese would eventually choose not to block the US and EU-3 efforts to refer Iran to the UN Security Council:

Russia desperately needs more than 10 billion-dollar-a-year US investment fo the next 25 years. EU alone has 12 billion dollars' worth of interests in Russia. In fact, what has kept Russia on Iran's side is not so much the economic interests as much as it is the political ones. The Russians are playing Iran as a political card against the West although they know they can play this card only up to a certain limit.

China, on the other hand, is as the world's biggest energy consumer and has recently signed a $ 100 billion energy contract with Iran, but America will easily be able to find China alternative markets in countries such as Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iraq and most importantly Saudi Arabia which is now in talks with the Chinese and is ready to increase its oil production up to three million more barrels.

So what could happen next? Again, Dr Nourizadeh:

In London, world powers reviewed three major options as to how to handle Iran's nuclear crisis:

First, Iran's referral to the UN Security Council: issuing a harsh warning to Iran and setting a deadline for the Iranian regime to return to the full suspension of its nuclear fuel research.

Second, symbolic Sanctions: barring Iranian diplomats and leaders from traveling abroad, recalling ambassadors and reduction of trade and diplomatic ties.

And third, smart sanctions such as blocking the export of gasoline to Iran.

For now, Russia and China have only joined Europe and the U.S. in criticizing Iran's resumption of uranium enrichment. But both have also said that they would prefer to avoid Security Council involvement and are outright opposed to sanctions. It now remains to be seen how the United States and its European allies will be able to convince Russia and China to support Iran's referral to UN (and later sanctions) in the run-up to the emergency meeting of IAEA on Feb. 2.

January 21, 2006 09:43 PM

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