'Iran sanctions cost US a fortune'
Wed, 26 Nov 2008
The NFTC President Bill Reinsch
The US National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) has announced that the
unilateral sanctions imposed against Iran have consequences for the
The NFTC President Bill Reinsch says the council seeks to persuade
the incoming administration of the US President-elect Barack Obama
that the US unilateral sanctions "generate a number of significant
economic consequences" for the US, the Inter Press Service reported.
According to the NFTC, if the US were to scrap its unilateral
sanctions and, in turn, Iran were to ease its foreign investment
rules, particularly in its oil sector, the Middle Eastern nation
could boost its crude oil production by about 50 percent and lower
world prices by about 10 percent. This would cut the cost of US oil
imports by about $38 billion.
The pro-trade group further estimates the economic liberalization in
Iran would boost its overall trade by up to $61billion, adding 32
percent to its gross domestic product (GDP).
In turn, US non-oil trade and trade in services with Iran also would
shoot up, by about $46 billion or 0.4 percent of US GDP.
The US has spearheaded three rounds of Iran sanctions in the UN
Security Council to force Iran to halt its nuclear enrichment
Iran has repeatedly declared that it will not give up its legitimate
nuclear rights under Western pressures.
Tehran gives backing to US-Iraq agreement
December 01, 2008
Iran officially hailed Iraq's laboriously negotiated security pact
with the United States in a telling sign that Tehran is keen to
improve relations with the United States when Barack Obama assumes
power next month.
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Hasan Qashqavi, said yesterday
that Tehran would back the controversial accord, which was passed by
the Iraqi parliament last Thursday, provided it is approved by the
Iraqi people in a referendum scheduled for July 30.
The US-Iraq status of forces agreement (Sofa) sets a timetable for US
forces to leave Iraq in three years, although they will pull out of
cities and towns by the middle of next year. If a popular Iraqi vote
fails to endorse the withdrawal plan, US troops may have to leave
earlier an outcome Iran would prefer.
Tehran had long criticised Sofa. The president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,
last month said Sofa's goal was to allow Washington to "enslave and
exploit" Iraq. His comments were echoed by Iran's powerful
parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani, one of the president's arch
conservative rivals, who agreed that the pact runs "against Iraq's
national security interests".
And as late as last week, leading Iranian daily newspapers, which are
influential because they reflect the thinking within key regime
circles despite their unimpressive sales figures, fulminated against
the deal as a "sell-out" to the United States that would turn Iraq
into a "source of danger to its neighbours".
Excitedly, Jomhuri-e-Eslami predicted that a popular uprising would
erupt in Iraq if parliament approved the Sofa deal.
Although Iranian officials remained mum on the Iraq-US accord, most
Iranian media had focused coverage to opposition to the pact by
Muqtada al Sadr, the anti-US Iraqi Shia cleric whose 30 loyalist
deputies in the 275-seat Iraqi legislature rejected the landmark
The tone in Iran softened rapidly, however, after the deal affirmed
that Iraq's territory could not be used to attack neighbouring
states. One of Tehran's central concerns was that the United States
could use Iraq as a springboard for military strikes on Iran.
Tehran also felt obliged to revise its hostile rhetoric after the
deal was backed in Iraq's parliament with the support of the main
Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish blocs. Iran did not want to be seen to
oppose the will of the Iraqi people or jeopardise its cherished
friendship with its allies in the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.
"Iran's support of the agreement signals its willingness to be
helpful to the US, granted a different US approach to Iran," said
Trita Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council,
which promotes diplomacy to resolve disputes. "Though there is a
limit to how much Iran could work against the agreement since its
allies in the Iraqi government favoured it, Tehran's turnaround is
still noteworthy," Dr Parsi said in an interview.
Mr Obama's election also spurred Iran to backpedal on its hostile
stance towards Sofa. Those urging improved relations in both Tehran
and Washington argue the two countries have vital shared strategic
interests, not only in Iraq's stability but also in Afghanistan's.
Iran is as alarmed by the growing strength of the virulently anti-
Shiite Taliban as is the United States.
Mr Ahmadinejad made clear he viewed Mr Obama's election as an
opportunity to mend ties with Washington after years of soaring
tension during the presidency of George W Bush. The outgoing US
president branded Iran part of an "axis of evil" in 2002 when a
moderate, Mohammad Khatami, was in power in Tehran.
The Iranian incumbent, whose re-election hopes have been jeopardised
by his economic mismanagement and plunging oil prices, responded with
alacrity to Mr Obama's triumph by sending him an unprecedented
congratulatory message. The US president-elect, and his future vice
president, Joseph Biden, have in the past urged unconditional
dialogue with Iran.
But Mr Obama is being buffeted by a flurry of conflicting advice from
Washington politicians and Middle East academics on how to transform
US dealings with a nuclear-ambitious Iran. Two broad fronts have
emerged. The first recommends getting tougher with Iran by tightening
sanctions and bolstering Washington's negotiating hand by beefing up
military presence in the Gulf. The second argues that military and
economic coercion have been counter-productive: unconditional talks
are the way to go. Iran's endorsement of Sofa should strengthen the
position of those espousing a less hawkish approach.
Officially, Tehran's rather coy position is that it does not expect
much change from Washington under an Obama presidency. Even as Mr
Qashqavi, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, endorsed the Sofa
accord, he said: "One of Mr Obama's conditions for the establishment
of ties with Iran has been the cessation of Iran's uranium enrichment
which in itself is indicative of lack of change in Washington's
perspective towards Iran."
Certainly, the US president-elect's choice of Hillary Clinton as his
secretary of state, gave little cause for Iranian cheer. Memorably,
she vowed to "obliterate" Iran if it attacked Israel when she was
running against Mr Obama to be the Democratic presidential candidate.
Yet Mr Obama enjoys celebrity status among many Iranians hoping his
slogan of "change" also will apply to their country. "Why doesn't
Iran have an Obama?" lamented a populist reformist weekly recently
before it was banned by Iran's Press Supervisory Board.
There was clearly heated behind-the-scenes wrangling in Tehran over
Sofa. Ayatollah Ali Jannati, a prominent cleric who heads Iran's
influential Guardian Council, had opposed the accord until last week
when he performed a rare U-turn at Friday prayers, giving Sofa his
lukewarm but important approval. The Iraqi parliament had approved
the deal under US pressure but "did well" in deciding to put it to a
referendum, he told worshippers during a sermon. "Then the ball will
be in the court of the Americans who claim that they are after
democracy," he said.
More effusive was the head of Iran's judiciary, Ayatollah Hashemi
Shahroudi, who is a close ally of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah
Ali Khamenei. He said the Maliki government in Baghdad had "acted
very wisely" in its handling of the deal.
Ahmadinejad slams US for Iraq 'oil theft'
Wed, 15 Oct 2008
Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran's president has hinted
that the White House is to blame for the billions of dollars that
have gone missing in Iraqi oil revenues.
"Several months ago, we heard that an enormous amount of over 100-
million barrels of Iraqi crude have gone unaccounted for since the US-
led invasion of the country," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on
The New York Times quoted a draft government report as saying in 2007
that "between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels a day of Iraq's declared
oil production over the past four years is unaccounted for and could
have been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling." Considering
the four-year period, a total of 100-million barrels of unaccounted
crude oil is a conservative estimate.
President Ahmadinejad also questioned the real motives behind the
Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
According to the Iranian president, Washington has adopted a policy
of exploiting the resources of other nations to extricate Americans
from the various problems caused by US politicians.
Following the US-led invasion of Iraq, Washington secured UN approval
to take financial control of Iraqi government affairs; US President
George W. Bush vowed to spend Iraq's money wisely.
However, a series of reports have revealed that the United States has
mishandled billions of dollars in Iraqi oil funds.
"There was a pervasive leakage in assets of Iraq, and to some extent,
those assets were squandered," said Frank Willis, a former senior US
official in Iraq, in February 2005.
Former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan expounded on the
issue in September 2007 to confirm that oil was the prime motive
behind the Iraq invasion.
"I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge
what everyone knows; the Iraq war is largely about oil," Greenspan
While White House echelons claim that Iraq's oil wealth has had no
place in their 'War on Terror' campaign, Republican presidential
candidate John McCain admitted in a May statement that 'American
reliance on foreign oil was the prime motive for invading Iraq'.
"I will have an energy policy that we will be talking about, which
will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East that will -
that will then prevent us - that will prevent us from having ever to
send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East,"
said the 72-year-old Arizona senator.
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