Wednesday, December 28, 2005

US sanctions companies that support Iran's military program

(BBC) The US has imposed sanctions on nine foreign companies, six of them Chinese, for allegedly selling missile goods and chemical arms material to Iran.

A US State Department spokesman said the measures were based on "credible evidence" but gave no details.

Secret, warantless, NSA wiretaps perhaps?

The US will not provide export licences to the firms involved, two of them Indian and one Austrian, and has banned the US government trading with them.

China has in the past denied selling weapons-related material to Iran.

The US and EU suspect Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons and are considering whether to refer it to the UN Security Council. Tehran says its nuclear programme is for civilian energy use.

Hopefully this just ratchet's up the pressure on Iran. And as a bonus we get to poke China in the eye with this and say "Ah-hah!"

Washington said it had taken action against the companies concerned under the Iran Non-proliferation Act, passed by the US Congress in 2000.

The legislation aims to prevent international support for Iran's nuclear, chemical and missile-based weapons programmes.

Ahh diplomacy. I hope it works. Maybe we should give Kofi Annan some lessons; might make him a little less snippy.

UPDATE: This is too funny. Apparently these sanctions huwt da feewings of Austwia, China, and India.

China, India and Austria have condemned a US decision to impose sanctions on nine firms which it believes have supplied Iran with military equipment.

China, which is home to six of the firms concerned, has demanded that the US State Department lift the sanctions.

The Austrian interior ministry defended the sale of about 800 sniper rifles to Iran by an Austrian arms manufacturer as "unimpeachable".

India criticised the sanctions imposed on two of its firms as unjustifiable.

The measures - which will remain in place for two years - ban the firms from trading with the US government and prevent them obtaining export licences needed to buy certain kinds of technology from US companies.

TOUGH! Deal with it.

UPDATE: In from the Cold goes in deep cover style on the Iran nuclear talks, in particular the latest development, Russia's proposal. Initially dismissed by Iran, they are reviewing it with renewed interest. The US and EU have endorsed it, but Spook86 says don't jump for joy just yet.

There are a couple of problems with this approach. First, Iran seems to be adopting negotiating tactics perfected by the North Koreans. Let the west float a proposal, express some interest in the idea, stretch out negotiations for as long as possible, then reject the plan and start over again. Remember those recent negotiations between Iran and the so-called EU-3 (Britain, France, and Germany)? Those talks dragged on for almost a year until they reached a dead end, and forced diplomats to shift their focus to the Russian proposal.

If history is any indication, the Iranians will "study" the plan for a few months, then ultimately reject it, demanding complete control over all aspects of their nuclear program. At that point, the diplomats will trash about for something else, perhaps a resumption of the EU-3 talks. In the interim, Iran's nuclear program will continue to advance.