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Thursday, October 28, 2010

EU passes new Iran sanctions, but needs US leadership

On Wednesday, the European Union implemented new sanctions against Iran that are much stronger than the sanctions passed by the UN last summer. But without US leadership, those sanctions are unlikely to have much of an effect.
The new EU sanctions, which are significantly tougher than the fourth round of UN sanctions approved by the Security Council in June, could affect a number of active EU-Iranian gas deals.

A case in point is British energy giant BP’s Rhum gas project in the North Sea.

The Rhum gas field, which is located off the coast of Scotland, is jointly owned by BP and Iranian Oil Company UK Ltd.

David Nicholas, a BP spokesman, told the Post that “we will look at them [EU regulations]” to review the new EU sanctions’ impact on the Rhum gas field.

Nicholas said BP would discuss the results of the analysis with the UK government.

“We will comply with the law,” he said.

He could not comment on whether the Iranian Oil Company has ties to the Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank and an authority on energy sanctions, first disclosed the BP-Iran Rhum gas field project on CNN and in Time magazine earlier this year.

“A fragile political consensus exists in favor of sanctions in Europe. If the Obama administration doesn’t provide determined leadership by either sanctioning foreign companies which are violating US law, or persuading these companies to terminate their Iranian ties, European governments will not enforce their own sanctions, Dubowitz told the Post on Wednesday.

“There is no substitute for American leadership. Connoisseurs of power politics – Vladimir Putin, Hu Jintao and Ali Khamenei – are watching. So is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will decide one of these days whether a nuclear-armed Iran is acceptable, or not,” he said.

Dubowitz was also quoted in Wednesday’s Zurich-based Handelszeitung business newspaper, calling for Swiss energy giant Elektrizitätsgesellschaft Laufenburg (EGL) “to stand on the right side” and cancel its €18 billion-€20 billion gas deal with Iran.

EGL, which is largely a government-owned enterprise, is facing intense scrutiny from US Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California) in connection with a new round of US Iran sanctions legislation meant to plug holes in the law. Sherman was a leading architect of the US sanctions bill that became law in July.
And the response from the United States? Let's go to the videotape.

Uh oh....


At 11:10 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

It says something when the Europeans are leading on Iran.

We can't expect much from Obama so this is likely the best we can get.

What could go wrong indeed


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