Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Iran's Continued Defiance and Internal Shifts

The Iranians are still pushing the nuclear issue, and Russia is still going to sell them nuclear fuel. I'm still not sure how you can have sanctions against them when one of the largest partners to both sides is excessively wishy-washy on whether Iran should face sanctions and then they continue to sell them exactly what they need to proceed.
The United Nations Security Council will vote within days on whether to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its nuclear program, the U.S. government said.

"We are hopeful that we can get a vote in the very near future," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said yesterday. Nicholas Burns, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, told Cable News Network that sanctions will be passed against Iran ``in the next several days."

Talks on a resolution to pressure Iran to abandon uranium enrichment have been deadlocked for months. The U.S. government, which says the regime in Tehran is intent on developing a nuclear weapon, backs a resolution that would bar it from acquiring any materials and technology that could be used to develop an atomic bomb.

Russia, which is constructing a commercial nuclear reactor for Iran, opposes a proposed travel ban and asset freeze on officials involved with "proliferation sensitive" activities.
Though there is some sign of discontent with the ruling regime. The elections appear to be moving against the extreme conservatives like Ahmadinejad. The problem is, since the liberal candidates are disqualified from the start, it's hard to measure just how angry the Iranian people may be.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suffered an embarrassing blow in local council races, according to partial election results yesterday, in voting viewed as a sign of public discontent with his hard-line stance.

The balloting in Iran represented a partial comeback for opponents of Ahmadinejad, whose Islamic government's policies have fueled fights with the West and brought Iran closer to United Nations sanctions.

Former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, a relative moderate, polled the most votes of any Tehran candidate to win reelection to a key assembly post.

"Ahmadinejad's list has suffered a decisive defeat nationwide," said the Islamic Iran Participation Front, the largest reformist party. "It is a big no to the government's authoritarian and inefficient methods."

The biggest victory was seen as being for "moderate conservatives," supporters of Iran's cleric-led power structure, who have been sharply critical of Ahmadinejad, saying he has needlessly provoked the West with harsh rhetoric and has failed to fix the country's faltering economy.
Looks to me like nothing much will be changing in the near term. The UN Security council is toothless without Russia's compliance, and the people of Iran aren't allowed to fully display their displeasure in the voting booth. No movement inside or outside, so the status quo appears to be all that can be expected.

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