US Passes Strong Sanctions Against Iran

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  • Thu, Jul 01, 2010 - 11:13pm

    #51
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    Re: US Passes Strong Sanctions Against Iran

Beating gold down today could be part of a strategy of preemption to ameliorate the ensuing rocket blast  that’s bound to follow the ribbon cutting ceremony, marking the entrance to Clusterf*** Iranian style. Netanyahoo turned down the offer to sign it, using his right hand thrust into an Obama sock puppet, I hear. You wonder about the legitimacy of any document that is reliant on a proxy and not the actual power behind it. Wink

  • Fri, Jul 02, 2010 - 02:28am

    #52
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    Re: US Passes Strong Sanctions Against Iran

[quote=machinehead]

This can get real crazy in a hurry, as one falling domino tips over the next one. 

[/quote]

I couldn’t agree more.  Why do we never learn the lesson of unintended consequences?  Or maybe, sometimes, the consequences are exactly what is intended.

  • Fri, Jul 02, 2010 - 11:48am

    #53
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    Re: US Passes Strong Sanctions Against Iran

Here is a video of the White House signing ceremony:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKpt0mULsHk&feature=player_embedded

Seven people accompanied Obama as he signed the bill: Tim Geithner (Treasury secty.); Susan Rice (UN amb.); Stuart Levey (Under Secretary, Treasury); Rep. Eric Cantor; Rep. Steny Hoyer; Sen Chris Dodd; House speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Of the seven, Stuart Levey, Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, is the most significant in implementation. A holdover from the Bush administration, Levey took a major role in coordinating the economic blockade of Gaza after Hamas took control in June 2007. So effective was Levey’s international blockade that even Arab banks were unable to send wire transfers into the embattled enclave. As a JTA article observed,

Despite his GOP and conservative credentials, Levey has emerged as nonpartisan to the extent that when Obama’s nomination of Geithner hit a glitch over back taxes, Levey was appointed acting secretary.

“We were absolutely delighted when the Obama administration chose to ask him to stay in office,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, which honored Levey with the organization’s 2009 Public Service Award. “That really spoke to the reputation Stuart established.”

http://www.jta.org/news/article/2010/06/29/2739828/stuart-levey-brings-diplomacy-to-financing-enforcement

The resemblance between the economic blockade of Gaza and the new blockade of Iran is not coincidental. But Iran is a major oil producer, with 72 million people as compared to Gaza’s 1.5 million. Can the US Treasury starve 72 million Iranians into submission? It don’t seem like a good idea to me.

“Iranians turned into Gazans at the stroke of a pen — COOL, HUH?!”

  • Fri, Jul 02, 2010 - 12:05pm

    #54
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    Re: US Passes Strong Sanctions Against Iran

Stuart Eizenstat details the ever-expanding neocon wish list in the WSJ:

The EU should sanction all Iranian state-owned banks and their subsidiaries, preventing any transactions with them in the eurozone market. All are involved in supporting illicit trade in arms, and all finance front companies for the nuclear weapons program. To leave any off the sanctions list only invites Iran to shift transactions to those not on the list. All pollute the integrity of the global financial system.

Second, the EU should make its sanctions systemic. America’s sanctions regime covers all transactions by Iranian state-owned banks—not only those directly related to nuclear activities. The U.S. bars dollar transactions involving Iran if they are cleared through the United States. Right now, the EU has no similar policy. It should. The EU should prohibit any euro-denominated transactions involving Iran from being cleared through the European banks. 

Third, the EU and U.S. should agree to ban all insurance companies under their jurisdiction from providing insurance or re-insurance to any ships carrying refined petroleum to Iran, which imports 40% of its needs, and prohibit any new investment in Iran’s oil and gas industry.

As a fourth step, the EU should work together with the U.S. in multilateral forums outside of the U.N. to broaden the number of countries undertaking serious financial sanctions. With EU-U.S. cooperation, Japan will be more likely to take the same type of action for yen-denominated transactions. If it did, Iran would be deprived of financing its nuclear activities in any of the three major international currencies.

Lastly, it’s time to shine a harsh light on the Central Bank of Iran. The new U.N. resolution stresses the need for nations to exercise “vigilance” over the activities of the bank, but the EU and U.S. should go further. Except in times of war, central banks have been sacrosanct because of the potential disruption to the global financial system. But Iran’s central bank has forfeited its special status. It functions like no other central bank. It is not only Iran’s monetary arm, but it conceals financial transfers, assists Iranian banks and companies in navigating around existing sanctions, and helps finance front companies to acquire nuclear technology and parts. The EU and U.S. should jointly warn Iran’s Central Bank that if it does not cease its illicit activities, it too could become a sanctions target. 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703426004575338443415494022.html

Whoa — boycott Iran’s central bank? You know the CFR elitists are serious, when they’re willing to bust a fellow member of the central banksters’ union.

  • Fri, Jul 02, 2010 - 01:17pm

    #55
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    Re: US Passes Strong Sanctions Against Iran

David Moon, in the Asia Times, reviews some political and practical constraints on a potential Israeli bombing sortie to Iran:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LG01Ak01.html

This is truly some chilling war-porn.

  • Fri, Jul 02, 2010 - 03:19pm

    #56
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    Re: US Passes Strong Sanctions Against Iran

Peter Lee reviews the checkered background of Stuart Levey’s sanctions on a Macau bank — calling him the ‘father of the North Korean nuke’ — and speculates on how the new sanctions could benefit China at U.S. expense. A few excerpts:

Stuart Levey, “father” of the North Korean atomic bomb, is back, and with him is the threat that the United States will deploy the most feared and dangerous weapon in its diplomatic arsenal – sanctions against foreign corporations and foreign banks – to advance its Iran and North Korea policies.

Levey, director of the US Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (OTFI), returned to the spotlight with the announcement of US add-on Iran sanctions in the wake of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1929. China has a considerable amount of experience with Levey, mostly negative, and will be observing his actions on Iran and North Korea with a good deal of wary curiosity.

With the exception of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Levey is the highest-ranking George W Bush administration holdover in the Barack Obama administration. Wielding – and abusing – [expanded powers under Section 311 of the Patriot Act] proved an irresistible temptation to the Bush administration. The genuine object of OTFI’s threats were the financial institutions of American allies – allies that, for reasons of principle, greed or strategic necessity, had not seen fit to impose the same national sanctions on Tehran and Pyongyang that had been imposed by the United States.

In September 2005, alleging that BDA [Banco Delta Asia — a small bank in Macau that accepted North Korean deposits] was laundering North Korean counterfeit money, the Treasury department announced it was investigating BDA as a “bank of money laundering concern”. There was a prompt run on the bank, the Macau authorities took BDA over, and $24 million or so in North Korea-related funds in 51 accounts were frozen at American insistence. That represented the highwater mark of America’s success in quarantining BDA.

North Korea withdrew from the six-party talks in fury, abandoned its nuclear haggling with the United States, and detonated its first atomic bomb on October 9, 2006. Despite revisionist attempts to decouple BDA from the bomb, Levey’s paternity of the Nork nuke is pretty much indisputable.

The fact that OTFI money-laundering sanctions were completely non-transparent applications of US executive branch rules, by which the accused party could not even appear, let alone mount a defense, certainly contributed to the OTFI’s intimidating aura, but also fueled international fear and resentment. OTFI became associated with American unilateralism, the back-door assertion of extra-territorial jurisdiction, and shoddy procedures: essentially, an abuse of America’s privileged position at the center of the financial world.

The final, and strategically most significant, fallout of the BDA affair was that it showed China’s leadership how far the United States was prepared to go to attack core Chinese interests in pursuit of its foreign policy goals. The BDA sanction was, openly and avowedly, designed to intimidate China with the threat of being cut off from the US financial system.

As European and EU sanctions are imposed, they will institutionalize a shared US and the EU interest in preventing China and Russia from profiting overly from the economic and strategic vacuum created by the increased sanctions. With the EU largely lined up on the US side of the fence now, the focus is shifting from the euro as an alternative, to China.

http://counterpunch.org/lee07022010.html

If Peter Lee is right, the HR 2194 sanctions lead inevitably not only to confrontation with their direct target, Iran, but also to conflict with Russia and China, which unlike the US actually share the same Asian continent with Iran.

Does this sound like a recipe for global war, started by a squalid little vendetta that careens out of control? World War I began in similar fashion, you know. 

 

  • Fri, Jul 02, 2010 - 04:22pm

    #57
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    Re: US Passes Strong Sanctions Against Iran

“United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1929.”

Seriously?  1929?

Man, those guys have a wicked sense of numerological humor.  Not sure I share it though….

 

  • Fri, Jul 02, 2010 - 04:31pm

    #58
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    Re: US Passes Strong Sanctions Against Iran

Barry Soetoro (a.k.a. Barack Hussein Obama) made a troubling speech several days ago:

The Civilian Expeditionary Force: Obama Says ‘Burden’ Can’t be All on the Military

During his town hall in Racine, Wisconsin today President Obama spoke about the civilian expeditionary force within his National Security Strategy.

“We just got to be smart about using all the elements of American power, not just one element of American power,” he said.

The president pointed to Iraq and Afghanistan where military personnel are having to engage in work that he said really should be civilian work– like building schools and bridges — because of under-resourcing on the civilian side.

“The problem is — is that we don’t have a civilian effort that has always matched up to the military effort. So the military goes in there, they clear out everything, they’re — they’re making everything secure, and now the question is, all right, can we get the civilians to come in to work with the local governments to improve the situation? And a lot of times that civilian side of it has been under-resourced.”

Is anyone in America listening to what this guy is saying?  First, we are going bankrupt paying for the conquest and occupation of two Muslim countries and on the verge of attacking a fourth country.  And he suggests Americans should be physically building schools and bridges in Iraq and Afghanistan while our infrastructure at home is deteriorating.

The war drums continue to pound while the anti-war movement is sitting out this dance….they have disappeared.

Larry 

  • Fri, Jul 02, 2010 - 05:16pm

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    Re: US Passes Strong Sanctions Against Iran

I, too, was struck by the seeming plausibility of an attack on Iran by Israel as described by David Moon in the Asia Times article. It was chilling and worrying in the extreme.  

The new sanctions are very much an act of war.  The JTA certainly knows this even if the benighted MSM isn’t capable of describing them for what they are.  Given the dysfunctional US political system nothing about these developments surprises me in least. 

What I wonder, though, is what game are Russia and China playing at?  If indeed they have now given the US  tacit approval for a military strike against Iran despite the many serious complications it will cause them, too, are they behaving as Machiavellian rational actors in the sense that they are giving the US the rope to hang itself with?  As it must be obvious to both countries how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have vitiated the US economically, militiarily and not least in terms of its standing in the world do they perhaps sense one final act of folly will be enough to push the US off its hyperpower perch?

Many bad things will come of any war with Iran.  One that seems a certainty to me is a Great Depression that US and the rest of the OECD countries will never emerge from.  It will well and truly be the end of growth… achieved in the worst possible manner.

  • Fri, Jul 02, 2010 - 05:44pm

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    Re: US Passes Strong Sanctions Against Iran

[quote=debu]

I, too, was struck by the seeming plausibility of an attack on Iran by Israel as described by David Moon in the Asia Times article. It was chilling and worrying in the extreme.  

The new sanctions are very much an act of war.  The JTA certainly knows this even if the benighted MSM isn’t capable of describing them for what they are.  Given the dysfunctional US political system nothing about these developments surprises me in least. 

What I wonder, though, is what game are Russia and China playing at?  If indeed they have now given the US  tacit approval for a military strike against Iran despite the many serious complications it will cause them, too, are they behaving as Machiavellian rational actors in the sense that they are giving the US the rope to hang itself with?  As it must be obvious to both countries how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have vitiated the US economically, militiarily and not least in terms of its standing in the world do they perhaps sense one final act of folly will be enough to push the US off its hyperpower perch?

Many bad things will come of any war with Iran.  One that seems a certainty to me is a Great Depression that US and the rest of the OECD countries will never emerge from.  It will well and truly be the end of growth… achieved in the worst possible manner.

[/quote]

I wonder what Zbigniew Brzeziński makes of all of this. His geo strategic plan was to drive a wedge between Russia and China, by ramping up tensions in their outlying regions. Certainly all of the “islamofascism” ravings of lap dog journos and Anglo American politicos seemed designed not only to provide a war context for the Middle East, but fanned the flames of ethnic and tribal cross boundary tensions in Russia and China, to some extent.  The 1929 treaty unifies China and Russia and the U.S. behind a common enemy.  Indeed, Russia as an oil exporter, could help make up for a shortfall in oil imports that China is sure to experience if war breaks out. So there is something in it for Russia. China is another matter. What’s in it for China? China recently inked their biggest trade deal ever with Taiwan. As an American proxy, Taiwan does nothing without the say so of the U.S. This is my impression. I could be very wrong. In exchange, China takes small steps to let it’s yuan float, and signs UN resolution 1929.

Debu, You bring up another excellent point.  It’s worth so much to Russia and China that the U.S. weakens itself beyond recognition, both militarily and economically, creating a vacuum that China, in particular, is more than ready to fill. Signing on to this bill allows the former heavyweight to beat himself to death.

If Zbig is driven into apoplectic hissy fits over the potential for war with Iran,  you’ll know you’re right. Smile

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