Obama to Discuss Iran With World Leaders
On July 6-8 President Obama will meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow, to discuss a new nuclear arms reduction deal to replace the START 1 treaty, which expires in December. The threat of Iran as well as American plans for a missile defense shield stationed in the Czech Republic and Poland will be an important part of the talks.1
From Moscow Obama flies to the G8 summit that will be held July 8-10 in the city of L'Aquila, Italy. According to the host, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Iran and possible further sanctions against its nuclear program will top the agenda at the meeting of the world's major industrialized powers meet.2
Even in the tumult the following election, Iran has not suspended its quest for nuclear weapons.3
Twelve Ways to Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons without War
Iran is moving steadfastly toward acquiring the capability to make nuclear weapons. Last month it successfully test-fired a solid-fuel missile with a range of 1,200 miles - a weapons delivery system able to reach most countries in the Middle East and some in Europe. The world does not have a lot of time to prevent Iran, the world's largest state sponsor of terror, from getting these weapons. It will take the will of key countries to stop Iran. Following are twelve ideas - carrots and sticks - that can be used to persuade Iran's leaders that it is in their interest to end Iran's nuclear weapons program and support of terror - without military action or regime change. All peaceful means must be used; at the same time, all options should be left on the table. Nothing would be more dangerous than Iran with nuclear weapons.
1. Cut off the sale of gasoline to Iran: The biggest stick the international community can wield remains Iran's dependence on imported gasoline. Iran has not developed enough capacity to refine its crude oil into gasoline. It therefore imports 40 percent of the gasoline it needs - almost all of it from Swiss, Dutch, French, British and Indian companies. When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rationed gasoline during the summer of 2007, violent protests broke out, forcing him to end the rationing. These European and Indian governments should stop companies based in their countries from selling gasoline to Iran.
2. Ban investments in Iran's energy sector: In addition to cutting off gasoline sales, the international community, led by the United Sates, should provide incentives to foreign banks and companies to eliminate investments in Iran's energy sector. This would prevent foreign oil companies from investing in Iran's oil industry.
3. Eliminate the purchase of oil from Iran: Iran derives an estimated 85 percent of its revenue from its oil sales. Iran's leaders use oil revenues to subsidize heavily the prices of gasoline, food, housing and other necessities. Clearly, a severe reduction in these revenues would have a strong impact on Iran's people and leaders.
4. Sustain international pressure on foreign banks and oil companies to halt their dealings with Iran's energy sector: International pressure on foreign banks and oil companies already has led major firms worldwide, such as Germany's Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, England's HSBC, Credit Suisse and Royal Dutch Shell, to halt or limit their business with Iran.
5. Freeze Iranian bank assets and impose sanctions on Iranian entities linked to its nuclear program: In June 2008, all of the EU's 27 member states agreed to freeze any assets held in their jurisdictions by Bank Melli, Iran's largest state-owned bank which has been labeled a nuclear proliferator by the EU, US and Australia for its role in Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile program. In March 2009, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on 11 companies linked to Bank Melli. In February 2009, officials from France, Britain and Germany issued a list of 34 Iranian entities allegedly linked to Iran's nuclear or biological weapons programs. Measures such as these must be broadened.
6. End World Bank contributions to Iran: In 2008 millions of dollars in financial guarantees were provided to Iran's industrial and natural gas sectors through the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). The international community should demand that future MIGA outlays not end up in Iranian hands.
7. Stop pipeline deals with Iran: There are a number of major pipeline deals with Iran that will enable Tehran to transfer and sell natural gas to Europe. The Nabucco pipeline and others, worth billions of dollars, would seriously erode the impact of economic sanctions that could halt Iran's nuclear program.
8. Halt arms sales to Iran: Because Iran's missile defense system is antiquated, Tehran seeks to purchase advanced weapons systems. Media reports at the end of 2008 indicate that Russia signed an agreement to sell its S-300 air-defense missiles, among the most sophisticated in the world, to Iran. Later reports state that Russia has decided not to sell this system to Iran. One speculated reason is that Iran could not make payments. Iran's acquiring this system would significantly change the military balance in the Middle East.
9. Deny shipping insurance to companies helping Iran: UN Security Council Resolution 1803 calls on all states to "exercise vigilance" with regard to companies that do business with Iran in order to avoid financing Iran's proliferation activities. The resolution specifically cautions states to be wary of granting insurance to businesses trading with Iran. It also focuses on export credits and loan guarantees. Insurance companies could increase the cost of doing business in or with Iran by reassessing their rates in view of Iran's questionable stability. Transit insurance could also be raised for ships and merchandise passing through Iran.
10. Intelligence: Gathering accurate and actionable intelligence about Iran's nuclear program is key to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The international community, led by the United States, should intensify its efforts at gathering such intelligence, upgrade the tools and facilitate greater cooperation among the world's intelligence organizations.
11. Divestment: American states and investors are taking the lead in incorporating "terror-free" investing principles to remove a source of income from Tehran's leaders. Governments and investors around the world should pursue similar principles in their investment strategies.
12. Impose inspections and restrictions on Iranian goods and officials: Stringent inspections of items entering or leaving Iran should be carried out, and strict international travel prohibitions should be imposed on Iranian officials, except for nuclear negotiators.
1 "Russian analysts skeptical ahead of Obama's visit to Moscow", RAI Novosti, June 30, 2009, >http://en.rian.ru/valdai/20090630/155394909.html
2 "Berlusconi: G8 to discuss possible Iran sanctions", PR inside, June 29, 2009,
3 "Watchdog boss: Iran wants nuclear weapon technology", CNN.com, June 17, 2009, > http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/06/19/iran.nuclear.weapon/