I’d like to hear thoughts from more informed people about our new ambassador to Syria, where we are reestablishing ties after withdrawing in 2005 over the controversy of Hariri’s assassination.
The U.S. is gearing up to slap new sanctions on Iran in response to heightened rhetoric about their nuclear ambitions (although the Islamic Republic will still not admit that it’s pursuing anything other than a civilian program) and another rebuttal of the nuclear-rod-swap-deal that would have taken some dangerous material out of the country and established a nuclear relationship with France or Russia.
Russia joined France and the U.S. in signing a letter to the IAEA claiming that Iran’s increased enrichment and its failure to notify the agency violated UN resolutions and indicated dangerous progress. Russia has been reluctant to jump on the sanctions bandwagon, and, like China, as a permanent member of the Security Council carries a crucial vote. The last thing China wants to do, of course, is sanction the country that fulfills 11% of its energy needs, and is seems less interested in honoring international regimes like the NPT.
In the meantime, a bill to issue U.S. sanctions on Iran has passed in both the House and the Senate. International sanctions are generally preferred (that is to say, where sanctions are preferred at all), and acting unilaterally is less powerful, so we’ll see how negotiations with Russia and China go. Let’s watch how the Administration’s rhetoric is attempting to distinguish the Revolutionary Guard, the Islamic Republic’s militia that has led the crackdown on recent protests, as an elite and separate corps. Some are pushing for sanctions targeted against industries run or patronized by the Revolutionary Guard (they have a monopoly over much of the Iranian economy).