Reliable Security Information

Maneuvering Iran Towards a Libya Deal?

At first glance, we seem to have reached a major divergence in terms of the world community's approach towards Iran.

The European Union and Canada have both adopted a set of harsh new sanctions against Tehran that bring their policies much closer into conformity with the U.S. stance. The EU, Iran's largest trading and investment partner, has frozen ties with the financial and banking sectors and has enacted a blanket "ban on new investment, technical assistance and technology transfers to Iran's huge gas and oil industry, particularly for refining and liquefied natural gas" (as Agence-France Press describes it).

But the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that "China does not agree with the EU's unilateral sanctions against Iran.". India is also not enthusiastic about imposing sanctions above and beyond what the UN has already imposed. New Delhi has signaled that it will observe the new set of UN sanctions (prohibiting weapons sales and ending all commercial transactions that are connected to its nuclear program), but is reluctant to ban Indian investment in Iran's energy sector, a position that Russia also seems to have taken.

So does this create sufficient wiggle room for Iran to soften the impact of these sanctions, and give it the ability to withstand the pressure? Is Iran playing off "east" against "west"?

I am not so sure. China, India and Russia cannot replace what Europe provides Iran. The "east" can provide life support but not the long-term rehabilitation and expansion of the economy that Tehran needs in order for the regime to survive.

So is the end result of all of this to encourage elements within the Iranian government of considering the value of a Libya-style deal--of "coming clean" in a completely verifiable fashion in return for Iran getting its global credit card back? Everything seems to be pointing to a compromise deal on enrichment emerging from the September talks, which could lay the basis for a longer-term settlement.

Just some attempts in trying to make sense of where things are headed.

Subscribe to SitRep: SitRep RSS Feed SitRep ATOM Feed