Iran update: number 113


  • P5+1 agree new wave of sanctions on Iran
  • Iran predicts it will be using nuclear power by next year
  • A Chinese military base in Iran: the geo-political consequences
  • US Iranians oppose military action
  • Congress discusses normalizing relations with Iran and assessing the effectiveness of sanctions and the policy of isolation

After meeting on January 22, the P5+1 were reported to have agreed a draft for strengthening the existing economic sanctions against Iran. The draft freezes assets and restricts travel for named Iranian officials and also calls for vigilance on all banks in Iran. However, it may be some time before the sanctions are voted on by the UN Security Council as non-permanent members, such as South Africa, want to wait until a report about Iran’s nuclear programme by IAEA Director General, Mohammed Elbaradei, is published. US Secretary of State Condolezza Rice is visiting London on 6th February and is likely to discuss how to maintain pressure on Iran.

US action to isolate Iran economically appears to be having an effect – as Iran faces an unusually cold winter, fuel shortages are leaving people cold and without electricity. Iranian FM Manouchehr Mottaki urged the Security Council to be patient and await Elbaradei’s report on the state of IAEA-Iranian cooperation, expected by the end of February. Elbaradei said that they were making “good progress in resolving the remaining outstanding issues of the past” but also welcomes greater openness from the Iranians.

Iran has now received all eight nuclear fuel shipments from Russia to its nuclear power plant in Bushehr. The plant is expected to be operational by October 2008 and President Ahmadinejad said that it would be supplying Iran’s national grid before 2009. Russian officials were more circumspect on the timing.

The Asia Times reports that Iran is seriously considering granting China a military base at an Iranian port or on an island off the coast. This would weaken the West’s strategy of isolation towards Iran, and strengthen the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and Iran’s role within it.

President Ahmadinejad also announced that it had withdrawn a 2005 offer to house an international fuel source to enrich uranium. Ahmadinejad stated that Iran may be prepared to study a new formulation of the offer so long as it preserved the ‘Iranian people’s right to enrich uranium’.

In a new US opinion poll of Iranian Americans in California conducted prior to the NIE of December but published on Jan 31, while 61% thought Iran’s nuclear programme was a source of concern, over 66% favor dialogue and negotiations, and only a small minority supported the threat of military action. This stands in stark contrast to similar polls of US Iraqis prior to the 2003 invasion.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced into the US House of Representatives Iran Diplomatic Accountability Act of 2008 (H.R. 5056), which calls for the appointment of a US special representative to Iran with the purpose of normalizing relations. The following day Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) introduced H.R. 5084, requiring the Secretary of State to assess the effectiveness of sanctions against Iran, following the release of the new Government Accountability Office report on the issue.


Stories and links

Iran launch rocket, Reuters, 4 Feb 2008

French Defence Minister says Iran is still pursuing nuclear arms, Yahoo, 1 Feb 2008

Russian diplomat – new round of sanctions would freeze enrichment, IHT, 3 Feb 2008

Iranian FM: US should be honest, Washington Post, 2 Feb 2008

Rice visits London to discuss Iran, Reuters, 1 Feb 2008

Iran’s Azadegan oilfield to go on stream next week, Reuters, 2 Feb 2008


comments, editorials and analysis

Has Iran won?, Economist Leader (and front cover), 31 Jan 2008

Turkey says US nuclear policy strengthens Iran, Reuters, 26 Jan 2008

The costs of containing Iran, Foreign Affairs, Jan/ Feb 2008

A winter of Iran’s discontent, Economist, 18 Jan 2008

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