In the battle over engagement with Iran, opponents won a victory on Wednesday — three days before the inauguration of Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani — as the US House of Representatives passed a bill seeking to cut Iran’s oil exports by another one million barrels per day over the next year.
The target is ambitious and probably more symbol than substance: the Islamic Republic only sold 800,000 bpd in June, after averaging 1.3 million bpd in 2012 and 2.5 million bpd in 2011.
A similar measure is to be introduced in the Senate next month.
The House adopted the bill 400-20, despite 131 Congressmen writing President Obama earlier this month to urge genuine talks with Iran over the nuclear issue.
The step was accompanied by further public denunciation of the Islamic Republic. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is holding two sets of hearings on Wednesday and Thursday declaring Iran’s perfidy in Syria and its support of terrorism in Latin America, while the Institute for Science and International Security has put out its third press release in two weeks proclaiming that Tehran, defying the international community, is on the verge of a nuclear weapon — including a “secret site” to achieve the goal.
(Featured Cartoon: Christopher Weyant/Cagle)
In contrast to the hard-line signal from the US House of Representative, a conciliatory line from Britain….
Britain shut its embassy in Tehran after an attack by a crowd on the compound in November. London closed the Iranian Embassy in Britain and expelled the Islamic Republic’s diplomats. government-sponsored militias” on the mission in November 2011. Iran’s embassy in London was also closed.
Meanwhile, Iranian media are pushing the theme, “US Should Engage in Creative Diplomacy with Iran”, using an article from London’s Financial Times: “The goal of western policy over the next few months must be to avoid pushing [President-elect Hassan] Rohani into a corner.”
Former President and Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani said Monday that the West need not be concerned about Iran’s nuclear program because of a 2005 Fatwa issued by the Supreme Leader, which said that Islam forbids the production, stockpiling, and use of nuclear weapons.
“There is no cause for concern since we have both nuclear know-how in the minds of our young people and the Leader’s fatwa that the use of nuclear weapons is haram [forbidden by Islam]. The important point is to make the world understand this through the language of diplomacy,” Rafsanjani told MPs.
Hardline Kayhan News — whose front page on Thursday is almost entirely dominated by a feature on the upcoming Qods Day (Iran’s anti-Israel and anti-Zionist ‘celebration’) — spares a small part of its lead for a story explaining that the West and Qatar are concerned by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s recent “victories” in Homs.
The rest of the story appears to include sections of Syrian State media’s reports on the regime advance in Homs translated into Persian.
Akbar Torkan, a senior advisor to President-elect Hassan Rouhani, and a former Defense Minister under Rafsanjani, asked outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday not to pass legislation before he formally hands over office on August 4.
“At the end of former president Mohammed Khatami’s Presidency, Ahmadinejad’s incoming administration asked Khatami to not pass certain legislation before his administration took office, and we ask Ahmadinejad to honor our requests as well, just as Khatami did his,” Torkan said.
If that were not clear enough, Torkan warned: “The last week of the Ahmadinejad administration shouldn’t be a week of looting.”
Outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has used a visit to the troubled South Pars energy project to declare, “Controlling the assets of nations has always been on the agenda of imperialism and imperialists have always tried their utmost to prevent other nations from achieving their interests.”
The President insisted, “Today, Assalouyeh and South Pars can be the starting point of a new history in our country by resisting against monopolization.”
Ahmadinejad talked about US-led attempts to restrict Iran’s energy sector, “Those who have imposed sanctions against us are the owners of the same companies that do not give us goods and equipments.”
However, the President did not refer to the numerous foreign companies — including from Russia, China, the Netherlands, France, and Spain — who have pulled out of the South Pars project since 2010, or to the long-term delays in development of the oil and gas field.
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