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Vol. 74/No. 22      June 7, 2010

Washington pushes new
sanctions against Iran
Washington submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council May 18 calling for more sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear program. Paris, London, Moscow, and Beijing, the four other permanent members of the Security Council with veto power, support the anti-Iran resolution.

The U.S. government went public with the sanction plan just a day after Tehran announced it had negotiated an agreement with the presidents of Turkey and Brazil for Iran to send its uranium to Turkey for enrichment.

According to a summary of the sanctions resolution carried by the New York Times, it demands the Iranian government suspend its enrichment of uranium, a process needed to produce nuclear fuel. Washington contends Tehran plans to make a nuclear weapon. The Iranian government denies this charge, stating its program is designed for energy production.

The resolution insists that Iran build no new enrichment facilities and open up its nuclear sites to unannounced inspection by UN authorities. It also calls for cargo inspections of shipments to or from Iran.

Expanding the imperialist pressure on Tehran, the resolution bans sales of some weapons to Iran, but at Moscow’s insistence leaves the door open to other arms sales. Russia is a major supplier of weapons to Iran. Likewise the draft urges governments to “exercise vigilance” when doing business with the Iran Central Bank or companies controlled by the Pasdaran, the Iranian military force that is dominant in the government and the country’s nuclear power industry. Both Moscow and Beijing opposed more stringent terms. Iran is China’s third-largest oil supplier.

Shortly after submitting its draft resolution, the Barack Obama administration lifted sanctions from three Russian companies Washington had previously charged with aiding the Iranian nuclear program. Philip Crowley, the State Department spokesman, said Moscow’s refusal to deliver S-300 anti-aircraft batteries it had promised Tehran was a factor in that decision. The S-300s would make it far more difficult for U.S. or Israeli bombers to attack Iran.

Some conservative voices denounced the sanctions draft. Columnist Charles Krauthammer called it “laughably weak.” The Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib, on the other hand, wrote, “No, the resolution’s provisions don’t amount to the ‘crippling sanctions’ U.S. officials have promised… . Still, the announcement matters. Most importantly it’s a strong sign that Iran can’t count on China and Russia to bail it out.”

U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates argued that the sanctions resolution is a step forward. “He says it serves as a reminder of Iran’s international isolation,” according to Voice of America News. It quoted Gates as saying, “The resolution provides a new legal platform that allows individual countries and organizations, such as the E.U., to take significantly more stringent actions on their own.”

The deal negotiated by Brazil and Turkey is refashioned from a proposal made by the imperialist powers in 2009 that Iran meet its needs for enriched uranium by shipping 70 percent of its low-grade uranium to another country for processing. Talks broke down when Iran insisted on alterations in the plan to give it more control over the uranium.

Under the new agreement, Tehran would ship 2,640 pounds of low-grade uranium to Turkey for one year. In return, it would get 265 pounds of uranium enriched to 20 percent by other countries.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the plan was insufficient because the Iranian government didn’t accept negotiations over its nuclear program or free access to its newest enrichment plant.

Tehran submitted its plan to the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency on May 24, joined by representatives of the Brazilian and Turkish governments. Washington said it would pursue sanctions in the Security Council and was hopeful that its resolution would be voted on within weeks. Representatives to the Security Council from Turkey, Brazil, and Lebanon are expected to oppose sanctions.

Meanwhile, Washington is quietly pursuing a campaign to pressure foreign companies to cease trading with Iran, reported Reuters. Since March the oil conglomerates LUKOIL in Russia and Royal Dutch Shell, foreign subsidiaries of Caterpillar, and the auto company Daimler have announced plans to end or reduce business dealings with Iranian firms. The German engineering giant Siemens stopped taking orders from Iran last January.

The sanctions fall the hardest on working people in Iran. Officially unemployment has risen 1.5 percent to nearly 12 percent in the last year. The rate would be much higher if those without full-time jobs were counted. The inflation rate is one of the highest in the Middle East, according to the Central Bank of Iran.
Related articles:
Washington, Seoul threaten N. Korea
S. Korea gov’t imposes trade sanctions
White House lays out plans to strengthen nuclear threat
Okinawans rally to close U.S. military facilities
U.S. hands off Korea!  
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