Gee, if you watched Iranian President Ahmadinejad talk to Brian Williams on NBC last night you would think that he suddenly had a change of Heart, that all of a sudden he was Mr. Nice Guy. Of course Brian Williams would buy that story, after all he things that the pro-Obama bias in the media is just an education campaign.
The truth is Ahmadinejad’s friendly demeanor, is just another tack in his on-going attempt to stall the western world until its too late. His interview and other somewhat reconciliatory statements are really meant to deflect attention from the real news, he is up to 6,000 centrifuges, and he has rejected all negotiation attempts from the Europeans nations:
Iran’s Accelerating Nuclear Program Requires A Stringent Sanctions Response By Victor Comras
Iran has begun a new charm offensive to head off, or to mitigate, possible new international economic sanctions following its latest refusal to suspend, or even slow down its uranium enrichment program. Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave an interview to NBC news anchor Brian Williams, which was broadcast tonight, denying that Iran had any nuclear weapons ambitions and stating that Iran is ready to meet the United States, gesture for gesture, in improving relations. Playing up on the Bush Administration’s decision to have Assistant Secretary William Burns sit in on the latest round of nuclear negotiations with Iran, he stated that Iran would respond “positively” if the US, has, in fact, adopted a new “non confrontational” approach. We should not be fooled by Ahmadinejad’s soft talk. Just a few days ago Iran rejected proposals put forth by the P5 Plus group (UK, France, Germany, Russia, China and the US) led by the EU’s top Iran negotiator Javier Solana. Those proposals included a beefed-up package of economic, trade and technology incentives for Iran along with a scenario for discussions that would have allowed Iran to continue its current enrichment activities pending further talks, provided that Iran would agree to take no new steps to enhance further its existing uranium enrichment program. The response was Ahmadinejad’s announcement July 26th that Iran had, in fact, accelerated its enrichment capacity, employing some 6,000 centrifuges in defiance of this latest “freeze in place” proposal. And there is no sign whatsoever, that, even if the US were to undertake direct talks with Iran, or drop any of its current trade restrictions or terrorism designations vis a vis Iran, that this would alter Iran’s nuclear activities or intentions. As Ahmadinejad, and his mentor, Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei have repeatedly indicated, they consider their uranium enrichment program “non negotiable.” The basic questions to be considered in designing a response are (1) whether Iran’s enrichment program actually poses a serious threat to regional and international peace and security; (2) How long we still have to deal with this threat, (3) would we be willing to accept a nuclear armed Iran; and (4) if, not, what can we do about it. Both Presidential candidates have stated that we cannot, and that we will not, allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. Both have indicated that Iran’s uranium enrichment program is headed directly in that direction. Some experts tell us it will take several years before Iran could produce nuclear weapons; others put that date just around the corner. These doubts and differences on timing have directly influenced differing world leader responses. Some are still complacent, calling for greater patience and a willingness to accept slow pace negotiations. They believe the problem can be resolved incrementally. These leaders are reluctant to take any new steps that might harm their commercial interests, raise the price of oil, or otherwise exacerbate international tensions. Others are worried that a much shorter timeframe is available, and call for urgent measures to compel Iran to desist from enrichment. The options they would select range from new, more stringent sanctions to military action. The closer Iran gets to nuclear capability, the more likely a military option will be chosen. However, if there is still time, the application of well targeted stringent sanctions may be the key. Such a course would be far less dangerous and costly to all involved. The UN Security Council has already passed three separate Chapter VII resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran. These measures were directed principally at impeding Iran’s acquisition of nuclear and missile related technology by targeting the specific sectors that are directly associated with these programs. Unfortunately, these limited measures have had little real impact on Iran. And Iran has successfully circumvented many of these measures by using cut-outs located in Dubai and elsewhere to handle transactions on behalf of the sanctioned entities. Ahmadinejad was quick, in his responses to Brian Williams, to point out just how well Iran has weathered these current sanctions. It’s certainly time now (and hopefully not too late) to up the ante. We must go beyond targeting Iran’s nuclear development programs, and begin to target Iran’s leaders and Iran’s real economic vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities include Iran’s fragile financial system, and her energy sector, transportation and communication sector, and urban commercial class.
There is certainly an extensive menu of sanctions that could effectively be implemented against Iran and that would likely have a significant impact on its leaders, its economy and on its policies. These include, inter alia, such steps as denying Iran investment and export credits, denying Iranian bank access to Euro facilities (they are currently cut off from dollar exchange facilities), curtailing access to shipping and maritime and freight insurance, denying landing rights to Iranian airlines, imposing an embargo on luxury items, dual use technology and refined petroleum products such as gasoline. With a daily consumption of more than 18 million gallons of gasoline Iran must now import some 180 to 200 million gallons of gasoline per month. A travel ban on Iran’s ruling religious and political leaders, including members of the Majlis, IRGC, police, military and major parastatal organizations, and their families, could also be effective. These are only a few examples of the types of measures that might well have an important impact on Iran’s leaders, causing them to consider changing course. All of these measures have been employed in the past, under different UN sanctions programs. Why not now against Iran? We should look first to the Security Council to take such appropriate sanctions actions. But, if the UN continues to falter, we should look to the EU and other likeminded countries to work with us to impose such measures. There is precedent for such likeminded action, which was employed with great success, for example, in dealing with the Milosevic regime in Serbia, and the Cedras regime in Haiti.
Europe remains Iran’s critical supply center and trading partner, especially Germany, Italy and Austria which continue to export more to Iran than they import. The question is whether Europe, and these countries in particular, can be convinced to undertake such measures. Both Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy have stated a willingness for the EU to act unilaterally, if necessary. But Germany’s Angela Merckel remains reluctant. Germany has joined with both Russia and China in calling for more patience and time in dealing with these issues. While their positions now seem commercially expedient, they may prove short-sighted in the long term. For all of these countries will lose even more if military confrontation becomes the only option. The fact is that any confrontation with Iran – military or sanctions — is likely to have an impact on world oil markets. But, the sanctions option would likely do far less damage in this regard than a military strike. That’s because Iran cannot really afford, in a non military context, to curtail significantly its own oil exports. These oil revenues are just too important to sustaining Iran’s economy and the ruling regime. And, even if Iran decides to restrict its oil exports to countries perceived as “not participating in the sanctions,” the oil market could quickly adjust to such a re-allocation. In any event, it should be clear that Iran is now actively buying for time – which it considers on its side. They view each day’s progress toward nuclear capability as irreversible and they obviously want to go as fast and far as they can while they hold us at bay through bluff and charm.