Democrats & Liberals Archives

Iran: Sanctions and Response

The UN Security Council’s Resolution 1737 essentially demands that Iran suspend nuclear activities and submit to IAEA transparency. To that end, it poses technology import restrictions and restrictions on a variety of agencies, businesses, and individuals. It does not either approve, or provide a path to, military consequences for noncompliance. The approval of the sanctions has evoked a less than positive response from Iran.

A bill passed by the Iranian Parliament and approved by the Guardian Council, gives the government a "free hand" in responding to the Security Council resolution. That "free hand" includes the possibility of accelerating nuclear development, ending cooperation with the IAEA, and withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). In other words, the ante has been raised once again.

From the rebuttal given by Dr. Zarif after the Security Council vote, it is clear that Iran feels that they are being denied their rights under the NPT; that a case is being manufactured against them; and that the rules of nuclear weapon development and possession are being applied unequally. Further, their responses to U.S. pressures has consistently been escalation - at least in terms of rhetoric. It is also clear, that Iran has the upper hand over the U.S. economically with both its oil, and the ease with which it could block the Strait of Hormuz. The Strait is significant because much of the oil out of the Persian Gulf travels through it.

It remains to be seen how significant an impact Resolution 1737 might actually be. Several of the businesses directly named, as well as a number of individuals specified, are connected to the "AIO." AIO is Aerospace Industries Organization. From the best I can determine, the AIO is in some ways similar to DARPA in the U.S.. It is a state-owned company which also controls a number of other subsidiaries. However, AIO is a subsidiary of Sanam Industrial Group. Sanam seems to be somewhat similar to General Electric - a major U.S. defense contractor, but also a major commercial enterprise.

If the sanctions stretch as far as Sanam, then they will likely dramatically impact the entire Iranian defense industry - not just nuclear development. It could also significantly impact non-military production. This could result in something similar to the sanctions that were placed on Iraq where pencils could not be imported because they contained graphite.

Meanwhile, more fuel is being added to the fire in what seems to be an effort to provoke a response from Iran. These include, the movement of battleships and aircraft carriers to the Gulf, and the Iranian diplomats in Iraq.

All of this has created an increasingly explosive situation. Iran is a significant influence in the Gulf. It is important as a collaborator for peace in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. It is also watched with a cautious eye by the leadership of Saudi Arabia. Which brings us back to the United States and the deteriorating situation in Iraq. The Saudis do not want the U.S. out of Iraq. In part, because they do not want to have to directly (and militarily) intervene to protect Iraqi Sunnis. If they had to do that, it would place them 4-square in conflict with the Iraqi Shias. That could potentially put them at loggerheads with Iran and its Shia leadership.

In other words, we are looking at a situation that could easily spiral out of control. The pessimist in me says it is already spiraling. Regardless, to all appearances, it looks as if the U.S. is going to continue to try and out-bully Iran. I do not believe that is a good idea. Nor do I believe that placing the negotiating and economic power in the hands of Russia and China is a good idea. Both already have strong economic ties to Iran - and to Iran's defense industry. It is unlikely that they will "influence" Iran to their own detriment.

Aside from suspicions, Iran has operated within the bounds of the NPT. However, like other international agreements, the United States has officially determined it is above the NPT. That does not give the U.S. a very strong negotiation stance when it comes to expecting other nations (including Iran) to abide by it.

See Also
Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO); Sanam Industrial Group; Sanam Industries Group; Lavizan;
Sultanatabad [Saltanatabad]
at GlobalSecurity.org

Sanam Industrial Group

Posted by Rowan Wolf at January 3, 2007 8:36 AM
Comments
Comment #201292

Rowan, excellent recap and analysis of the situation. Thank you.

My fear is that overt measures such as these by the U.N. which is not prepared to back them up with invasion capacity if needed, will simply force Iran to respond under the radar in ways that will not be seen until the effects are evident.

I see this as exactly the same scenario as the U.S.’s ban of recreational drugs in America. All it accomplished was expending enormous resources trying to track a trillion dollar underground economy and all manner of other illegal activity that became part of the defense of the black market. The war on drugs has been an absolute failure and this war on Iran through the U.N. may have exactly the same result with all manner of unintended consequences to include the proliferation of dirty bombs through underground networks.

As every hostage negotiator and gang leader knows, the worst thing one can do is make idle threats and not back them up with enforcement. Where is the U.N. Security Council to get its forces to back these moves against Iran up? Certainly not the United States, our Marines and Army are already in terrible disrepair due to our Iraq engagement. We are running out of equipment, gear, and manpower.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 3, 2007 12:28 PM
Comment #201344

Why would Iran not think they are being set up? After watching the Cheney’s dog and pony show against Iraq, one can understand their fear.

Sorry to bring this all back to Iraq, however after resolution 1441 was ignored by Iraq without any consequence from the UN, what is the point in issuing UN resolutions? Iran obviously feels they have no reason to comply.

Regarding the straight of Hormuz, would Iran really want to incur the wrath of the UAE and the US? I can’t imagine that China and Russia would long be supportive of Iranian escapades in the straight either.

At first I didn’t think partitioning Iraq was a good idea, but as long as the Sunni and Shia refuse peace it may well be the best solution. This way the central government can function and provide security to all Iraqi’s hopefully gaining respect from all in the process.


JT

Posted by: JayTea at January 3, 2007 5:09 PM
Comment #201355

Rowan,

As always you put together a great article, absolutely nothing I could disagree with.

What I expect to happen is an Israeli strike on Natanz, Isfahan, Ardekan, and Saghand similar to that on Osiraq in 1981. Then the Bush administration will, kind of, sort of, publicly scold Israel for doing that while shaking Olmert’s hand under the table.

Of course then the entire Middle east will erupt into a full-blown nightmare and George W’s mission in life will be complete. We’ll obviously intervene with our Naval air capabilities and the Neo-Con’s will expect Islamic society to embrace change.

That’s just chapter one.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 3, 2007 5:57 PM
Comment #201365

I wonder about a Kennedy solution. Explain to Iran that without a full inspection regime the US will assume the production of nuclear weapons and therefore any nuclear attack on the US or its allies will precipitate a full,automatic response in kind in a matter of minutes,not hours or days.
That and I’ll say again and again. We need a full blown and immediate national program to end our dependance on mid-east oil coupled with a withdrawel from the area.

Posted by: BillS at January 3, 2007 7:11 PM
Comment #201369

“We need a full blown and immediate national program to end our dependance on mid-east oil coupled with a withdrawel from the area.”

BillS,

Bam! That’s it. Back to Jimmy Carter. maybe we should control the flow of money to our enemies. Brilliant, simply brilliant!

But, sheesh, alternative fuels? Can’t do that!

Conservation? Are you kidding?

No more “hand holding” of sheiks? Oh mercy!

Posted by: KansasDem at January 3, 2007 7:39 PM
Comment #201384

BillS, I don’t often agree with Kennedy, but, if that is his plan, it was one of the most intelligent put forth yet. The reason is there is not stopping Iran from seeking its own self defense, and as the U.S. has taught the world’s nations via N. Korea and Pakistan, being a nuclear country is the best defense of all against U.S. aggression and bullying.

Therefore, if we can’t stop the inevitable, we might as well force Iran to acknowledge the responsibility that comes with being a nuclear nation. Welcome to the Most Assured Destruction path available should such a country exercise its power. Also make them aware their plutonium is traceable, ergo, if their plutonium signature shows up on the black market or in a dirty bomb in the U.S., Iran will instantly cease to exist.

That is the responsibility that comes with the choice of becoming a nuclear nation.

Still, it is a very risky proposition. The instant a nuclear missile is in the air, there are precious few minutes for the U.S. to make the calls and get the confirmations and clearances from other nations to assure no one misinterprets a counter-strike or its destination. Accidental launch or misunderstanding of a launch still holds one of the top three positions as the most dangerous events humanity is likely to face in the near term future. Pandemic or biological attack and global warming round out the other top 3. (speaking of which, just saw where Exxon spent 15.8 million to hire folks to dispel the science of global warming through various official sounding organizations).

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 3, 2007 9:17 PM
Comment #201413

I heard speculation recently that Iran may be running out of oil. They also just cut natural gas shipments to Turkey because domestic supply was short.

I don’t trust Iran, and I’m sure they’ll make nuclear weapons if they can, but it makes me wonder whether Iran really does need nuclear power generators. As Rowan points out, they haven’t violated the NPT (yet).

Posted by: American Pundit at January 4, 2007 2:31 AM
Comment #201420

BillS, KansasDem,

Good points about the Kennedy solution. I would be inclined to take it one step further. The US has never officially ruled out a nuclear first strike against an enemy, but we have said we would not do so against a non-nuclear power. Since North Korea wanted us to talk directly to them, I would’ve appointed a special ambassador for a 1 time only mission to tell North Korea that as a recognized nuclear power, they were no longer exempt from a pre-emptive US first nuclear strike. I’d make sure Iran understood it was coming too. I’d further form a list of countries hostile to the US that fund terrorism and engage in clandestine nuclear activities and tell them the following. Any attack on the US with a weapon of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, biological) will result in an immediate retaliatory attack on ALL the nations on that list. Since the US officially doesn’t have chemical and biological weapons anymore, I’d make very sure that they understood that the response would be nuclear and would not merely concentrate on political/military targets. Everything would be wiped out. MAD worked on the Soviets, it might just work on North Korea/Iran as well.

AP,

Iran is a victim of one of the saddest ironies of all. They are not running out of oil, their proven reserves are vast. However, as a result of our sanctions, they don’t have enough refining capacity to meet their own demand. As a result, even though they have vast oil reserves, they can’t refine it into gasoline for themselves, so they have to sell thier oil, buy back gasoline at a higher price, then sell the gas cheaper to their own citizens to try and keep them happy. I guess maybe there is some justice in the world after all.

Posted by: 1LT B at January 4, 2007 4:04 AM
Comment #201423

1LTB,

… tell North Korea that as a recognized nuclear power, they were no longer exempt from a pre-emptive US first nuclear strike.

Could you stop calling starting a war a “pre-emptive strike”, for once!?

You could play all you want with war rethoric, but being the first to strike will always make you the aggressor, aka the one who actually start the war.

I’d further form a list of countries hostile to the US that fund terrorism and engage in clandestine nuclear activities and tell them the following. Any attack on the US with a weapon of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical, biological) will result in an immediate retaliatory attack on ALL the nations on that list.

Seeing how weak US intelligence was in 2003 about the now famous mushroomy Hussein’s WMDs and, even worse, how US Government could not care less about its intelligence (pun intended) value, I already bet that such retaliation will be both unbacked and targetted wrongly.

Since the US officially doesn’t have chemical and biological weapons anymore,

US Chemical weapons stockpile are far from being empty. In October 2006, only 40% of those declared in 1997 were destroyed.
When I understand chemical weapons disposal is a difficult and dangerous task, hence the 2004’s 45% unmeeted deadline, US still have today chemical weapons and, may the international situation badly evolves as in your North Korea and Iran scenario, nobody could today claim for sure Chemical weapons won’t be used by US in retaliation.

Most probably, nukes will be used instead, agreed. Just because they’re far worst deadly than chemical weapons.
Doesn’t means using nukes are less immoral, though. In particular for a “pre-emptive” strike.

I’d make very sure that they understood that the response would be nuclear and would not merely concentrate on political/military targets. Everything would be wiped out. MAD worked on the Soviets, it might just work on North Korea/Iran as well.

Hum, MAD worked on the US too.
But what you’re lobbying is not a MAD doctrine toward NK and Iran, but plain first strike capability abuse.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at January 4, 2007 6:16 AM
Comment #201425

Phillipe,

The US has had almost 50 years to watch the North Koreans for operating patterns, HQs, fixed targets, infastructure etc. If a strike occurs with nukes, there will be no war, it will be over when the last warhead detonates. As far as the chemical weapons goes, by treaty, the US has renounced the use of chemical weapons and is in the process of destroying them. I’m fairly certain that what we have left is just the weapons payload, not actual deliverable warheads. Even if this isn’t the case, we said we wouldn’t use chemical weapons, but chem/biological are both classified with nukes as WMDs, therefore any US response to an attack from any one of these three types of weapons would be met with nukes.

I’m curious how first strike capability can be abused in the sense you talk about. Did the US “abuse” its first strike capability when it nuked Japan? Would it have been abuse to nuke Germany if they were still fighting when the bomb was functional? Iran and North Korea are both rogue regimes who cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons. Even your own government recognizes that. They are also run by bullies who only respect force. It would be well that they are reminded that they exist at our pleasure only and the risks of our displeasure are too great to contemplate.

Posted by: 1LT B at January 4, 2007 7:36 AM
Comment #201449

1LTB,

The US has had almost 50 years to watch the North Koreans for operating patterns, HQs, fixed targets, infastructure etc.

And yet they didn’t saw that NK will succeed developing nuke(s) technology so fast.
Not that they could ignore Pakistan weakness at nuclear technology proliferation…
Not that Iraq was not under US eyes in the last 15 years either.

If a strike occurs with nukes, there will be no war, it will be over when the last warhead detonates.

Which is the exact definition of “first strike capability”, indeed.
Which is an instant “war”, not “no war”. And there’s a difference. To see it well, just think you could have born north korean.

therefore any US response to an attack from any one of these three types of weapons would be met with nukes.

Sure. More deadly. More sexy to neocons.

I’m curious how first strike capability can be abused in the sense you talk about.

“Pre-emptive” US first nuclear strike against NK (or Iran for that matter) is both starting and ending war. Aka the immediate agressor and winner. Military. That’s the definition of “first strike capability”, and using it is not anymore applying MAD doctrine, it’s abusing the capability.
Keywords here are “pre-emptive” and “first”, if I didn’t make myself clear enough.

Did the US “abuse” its first strike capability when it nuked Japan? Would it have been abuse to nuke Germany if they were still fighting when the bomb was functional?

Nope, because the initial aggressors were Japan and Germany, not US. Pearl Harbor and the Battle of The Atlantic happened before US strike back.
Plus at this time US didn’t have first strike capability, having only very few nukes, she could not have destroy all military targets.

Which, BTW, were not choosed for Japan. Targets were cities.

Iran and North Korea are both rogue regimes who cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons.

Why not?
IIRC, only one nuclear power since nukes exists actually use it. And everybody still trust enough (well, less these years, agreed) this nation, right? Why not new nuclear powers? What about Israel? India? Pakistan? China?
Because their are not “rogue” nations? Who define “rogue” nations, beside US?

Plus, MAD doctrine still apply. You really think they ignore that US have first strike capability? They don’t, as US don’t ignore she can’t invade NK anymore without fearing a nuclear retaliation toward south korean (and US soldiers along border).

Even your own government recognizes that.

Oh yeah. But recognizing it doesn’t means we’ll agree a pre-emptive nuclear strike on them.
And so, the only one nation (and in this thread, poster) who talked about actually using nuclear first strike doctrine is US/you, not NK/Iran/me.

You may consider this strange, but usually I fear more a nation that are always lobbying/lobbied for a first strike/moving nukes from strategic to tactical weaponry than whatever rogue nations who never said they will strike the first, if even one day they could, which is still not proven.

They are also run by bullies who only respect force. It would be well that they are reminded that they exist at our pleasure only and the risks of our displeasure are too great to contemplate.

Oh, God Complex Alert!
And french are called arrogants… *sigh*.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at January 4, 2007 11:20 AM
Comment #201625

JT

Finally, someone on the liberal side of this blog tells the truth regarding the U.N., its resolutions, and diplomacy with terrorists.

You stated, “After Resolution 1441 was ognored by Iraq without any consequence from the U.N., what is the point in issuing U.N. Resolutions? Iran obviously feels they have no reason to comply.

If everyone understood that, maybe we would all understand why the U.S. so often has to go it relatively alone into these countries to control their lunatic leaders. This is why we had to keep Saddam in check and finish the job on him. We will prevail in this, and in Iran, regardless of the impatient naysayers.

JD

Posted by: JD at January 5, 2007 1:59 PM
Comment #201659

JD,

Finally, someone on the liberal side of this blog tells the truth regarding the U.N., its resolutions, and diplomacy with terrorists.

Are you claiming that Saddam was a terrorist?
Please back it.

You stated, “After Resolution 1441 was ognored by Iraq without any consequence from the U.N., what is the point in issuing U.N. Resolutions? Iran obviously feels they have no reason to comply.

Except that Iraq’s lunatic (indeed) leader WAS complying with the 1441 resolution: no WMDs was ever found to prove Saddam didn’t destroy them a he said he did, modulo a few forgotten/lost Iraq/Iran war weapons.

It seems “some other” leader didn’t want to wait any longer for the facts that will NOT back its case (“Look! Mushroom clouds! WMDs! We know *exactly* were they’re!”) for an Iraq War.
3000 americans died since. Thousands and thousands of unaccounted iraqis too.

Maybe this other leader was a bit lunatic too. Well, he still *is*, as he was not hanged for killing people for it own political gain, him…

If everyone understood that, maybe we would all understand why the U.S. so often has to go it relatively alone into these countries to control their lunatic leaders. This is why we had to keep Saddam in check and finish the job on him. We will prevail in this, and in Iran, regardless of the impatient naysayers.

Too bad you won’t finish before similar jobs in Vietnam, nor in Somalia (seems Ethyopia(!) had more success recently in this case than the US) or in Lebanon in the 80s…

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at January 5, 2007 6:07 PM
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