Iran News Digest- July 22, 2014

According to Reuters, this trend seems ready to continue now that talks have been extended and IAEA investigations are ongoing. IAEA representatives are reportedly worried about Iran’s failure to take any observable steps in the direction of five nuclear transparency measures that will be required of it before the end of August. For Iran critics, this certainly reinforces the impression that the Islamic Republic is barely willing to engage with the international community on this issue, and possibly is buying itself time to conceal evidence of recent activities.

Meanwhile, other organizations and Western analysts have pointed to arguably under-emphasized threats that are separate from Iran’s nuclear work but related to it. The Tower points out that some such analysts maintain that Iran is still on track to potentially have intercontinental ballistic missiles as early as next year. Tehran has been heavily invested in the development of these weapons, which can be used for delivery of a nuclear warhead or conventional bomb. Ayatollah Khamenei has explicitly rejected any attempts to limit Iran’s ballistic missile work.

OIL AND ALTERNATIVE PRESSURES

At a gathering in Washington DC, former CIA chief and current chair of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies James Woolsey articulated a relatively new vision for how to exert pressure on Iran over both its nuclear program and its human rights record, as reported in The Blaze.

Whereas prior US-led efforts have involved straightforward sanctions, especially on Iran’s oil and gas industries, those sanctions do not address the underlying attractiveness of doing business with Iran and accessing those resources. Woolsey’s long-term plan would likely do just this. By emphasizing alternative energies, Iran’s petroleum exports could be made less necessary for Western nations and less lucrative for Iran.

“Oil would be $60 per barrel instead of $100 per barrel, and that is the darkest day the ayatollahs have ever imagined,” said Woolsey, who described such suppression of oil prices as the only way to obtain leverage over Iran.

This, of course, is a solution that would take time to implement. In the meantime, the release of Iranian assets and the appearance of rapprochement make some countries and entities more likely to do a higher volume of business with Iran. However, this is not true in all cases. While China is reportedly expected to increase its oil imports from Iran, India has begun diversifying with South American sources, thus cutting its Iranian oil imports to six percent of the total.