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Experts call on Bush to end sanctions against Iran
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posted February 20, 2001 10:01
Monday, February 19, 2001
LONDON — Leading Western analysts as well as a U.S. report sponsored by Congress are calling on the Bush administration to consider lifting sanctions from Iran.
The analysts said President George Bush should not renew the Iran-Libya Sanction Act when it expires on Aug. 5. The act bans major investment in Iran's energy sector.
Another recommendation was that Iran be included in a pipeline that would bring oil and natural gas from Central Asia to Turkey and Europe. The analysts said U.S. support for the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline does not make economic sense.
"Continuing this two-pronged exclusionary effort is likely to drive Moscow and Teheran into even closer cooperation," said Geoffrey Kemp of the Nixon Center in Washington.
Kemp told a conference this week sponsored by the Royal Institute of International Affairs that Vice President Dick Cheney and other senior officials have been critical of U.S. sanctions against Iran. Kemp said U.S. sanctions on Iran and Libya are unpopular in Congress and have created opposition in Europe.
Another analyst, Beverly Rudy, agreed. A U.S. attorney on energy issues, Ms. Rudy said the administration has signaled that Washington would lift restrictions on investment in Iranian energy development. She said the sanctions failed to prevent investment in Iran by competitors of U.S. energy companies.
Ms. Rudy recommended that the administration allow U.S. energy firms to discuss investments in Iran even before August. The next step is that Washington allow U.S. companies to engage in swap deals with Iran for the export of Caspian oil. This would save the cost of building infrastructure for the transfer of Caspian oil to the West.
"Numerous signs suggest that the current administration will be more receptive to Caspian swaps than its predecessor and may even retreat from promotion of the Baku-Ceyhan line," Ms. Rudy said.
Iran and Russia are expected to reach agreement next month over the division of the oil-rich Caspian Sea among the five littoral states. These include Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan. The Caspian Sea is estimated to contain the world's third largest reserves of oil and gas after the Persian Gulf and Siberia.
In Washington, the report sponsored by Congress said the United States must consider lifting sanction on Iran, Iraq and Libya to avoid shortages and conflicts over oil. The report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies said worldwide energy demand was likely to grow more than 50 percent between now and 2020.
"If global oil demand estimated for 2020 is reasonably correct and is to be satisfied, Iran, Iraq, and Libya should by then be producing at their full potential if other supplies have not been developed," the report said.
"Indeed, if estimates of future demand are reasonably correct, the Persian Gulf must expand oil production by almost 80 percent during 2000-2020, achievable perhaps if foreign investment is allowed to participate and if Iran and Iraq are free of sanctions."
posted February 20, 2001 10:07
Israel to face Iran alone when U.S. lifts sanctions
February 19, 2001
The diplomatic and defense establishments in Israel are preparing to adapt their policies to address changes expected in the approach of the Bush administration to the Middle East. According to the prevailing analyses in Jerusalem, the new Washington administration is expected to soften its stand on Iran in parallel with increasing pressure on Iraq.
According to Israeli diplomatic evaluations, the Bush administration is planning to ease economic sanctions imposed on Iran by previous American administrations, and narrow its efforts to block Tehran's programs for developing weapons of mass destruction.
Israeli policy makers - in particular prime minister-elect Ariel Sharon - will need to decide whether to attempt to persuade Bush administration to maintain the sanctions against Iran, or to tow the American line and settle for returns in other areas.
In August this year the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA), initiated by former Republican Senator Alfonse D'Amato and passed with the lobbying efforts of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), will expire.
The law imposes sanctions on any foreign company, including those of European Union states and Russia, that invested in the Iranian oil industry. ILSA was an extension of previous restrictions imposed on U.S. firms by the Clinton administration in 1995 on similar business ventures in Iran.
The idea behind the economic sanctions on the largest Iranian industry was that this would restrict Tehran from diverting funds into nuclear weapons development programs and supporting international terrorism.
However, the new U.S. administration will probably oppose an extension to what is also known as the "D'Amato Law," because of its strong links to the American oil industry. Its representatives have watched European firms close lucrative deals with Iran while they are being left out.
Vice President Dick Cheney, who was CEO of Haliburton Co., a U.S. conglomerate with significant interests in the fossil fuel business, has forcefully attacked "unilateral sanctions" during the recent election campaign. If there is one thing that best signifies what is expected, soon after the Bush administration was sworn in, representatives of U.S. oil firms rushed to hold meetings with Iranian foreign minister, Kamal Kharazi.
Israeli lobbyists and diplomatic sources believe any effort to stave off this change in the U.S. administration will be fruitless and will only antagonize powerful elements in Washington. Instead, they suggest Sharon should concentrate Israeli efforts in garnering U.S. resources to dissuade Iran from developing weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver such dangerous payloads - specifically by pressuring Moscow to block weapons technology transfers to the Iranians.
During the first year of the Clinton administration, the U.S. declared a "dual containment policy" in checking Iran and Iraq. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave his full endorsement to the American approach and said Iran was the most serious threat to Israel's security. Bill Clinton responded by a series of laws which imposed sanctions on American and other companies seeking to do business with Iran.
However, when the French energy giant Total and the Russian Gazprom signed lucrative deals with Tehran, Washington faced strong pressure from Paris and Moscow and eventually backed down. This did not lead to a lifting of the sanctions, and there was no rush by other firms to bypass them, mostly due to the tough terms imposed by the Iranian government.
During the term of Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister, Israel sought American help to prevent the flow of nuclear and missile technology from Russia to Iran. Both Clinton and vice-president Al Gore agreed to adapt U.S. policy in line with Israel's request, however no serious pressure was put on Moscow and little was gained through the relatively mild efforts at convincing their Russian counterparts of the threat which the proliferation of nuclear known-how to Iran posed on Israel.
For reasons involving U.S.-Russian bilateral relations, Clinton also avoided enforcing a law which was passed in Congress imposing sanctions on those assisting Iran in the development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
During the tenure of outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Barak, minimal importance was placed on countering the flow of technology from Russia to Iran for use in weapons programs. Talks between the U.S. and Israel were limited to the level of senior advisers and meetings were infrequent.
The National Security Council is now eager to concentrate its efforts on the problem of technological flow to Iran and is waiting for Ariel Sharon to take a decision. Sharon, who dispatched envoys to Washington last week, reminded the Bush administration of the threat posed by Iran to Israel, in parallel with the dangers emanating from Baghdad.
In a briefing on February 7, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), George Tenet, emphasized the dangers facing the U.S. from the development of Iranian ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, with Russian technological assistance.
However, a lobbyist for Israel in Washington said that "the main problem now between the U.S. and Russia is the dispute over the National Missile Defense system (NMD) and efforts by Bush to convince Moscow to accept it. As long as they concentrate on this problem, other issues will receive secondary attention - just as the Clinton administration focused on the expansion of NATO and pushed other issues in relations with Russia to the periphery."
Deputy Defense Minister, Ephraim Sneh, one of the most loudest voices emphasizing the threat from Iran, is pessimistic about what to expect from the U.S.. "If indeed the U.S. adopts a conciliatory approach to Iran, and does not prevent the flow of nuclear and missile know-how from Russia, the implications are that we will need to face this threat alone and we need to be ready for this. The Americans will flex their muscles against Saddam Hussein and we will need to deal with the Iranian problem on our own.
All times are PT (US)
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