"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

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Iran and the Road Ahead

From The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Recently, two important developments have broken months of gridlock on the Iranian nuclear issue: a third round of UN sanctions and a new warning by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Although both measures are positive, their ultimate impact will depend on how aggressively and effectively key governments implement them.

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Russia warns Iran over nuclear program

From Yahoo via Reuters.

Russia toughened its stance towards Iran on Wednesday, threatening to back further United Nations sanctions over Tehran's nuclear program unless it halted uranium enrichment in the next few days.

Russia's U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin said Moscow could back a sanctions resolution the Western powers have drafted and which they want to discuss in the U.N. Security Council this week.

"If Iran in the next few days does not stop the enrichment activities of its heavy water project then yes, Russia ... has taken upon itself certain commitments... to support the resolution that has been drafted in the past month," Churkin told reporters via a video link from New York.

One has to wonder why the sudden change in Russia's stance towards increased sanctions against Iran given the recent agreement between Gazprom and Iran to develop oil and gas facilities.

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Prelude to War

From Amir Taheri.

When he first provoked a confrontation with the United Nations over Iran's nuclear programme, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was visibly counting on a sharp but short clash that would strengthen the Islamic Republic in the long run.

In defiant mood, the firebrand leader based his policy on the Nietzschean dictum: What cannot kill me makes me stronger!

Mr. Taheri goes on to explain the dramatic effects sanctions are having on Iran. The only reason their economy is currently afloat is $100 per barrel oil prices. He also notes, the only thing which will stop the current crisis in Iran is,

the Islamic Republic must stop uranium enrichment and place its centrifuges under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

It is clear that Ahmadinejad cannot agree to such a move.

For him to do so would be tantamount to committing political suicide.

Mr. Taheri hits the nail on the head. Almadinejad expected a swift clash with the west. President Bush and the EU have stayed in for the long term sucking the life out of the Iranian economy. Now Iranian leaders have a choice to make since Almadinejad cannot make it for himself.

But removing Ahmadinejad from power is not easy. Nor is it certain that the star-chambre of Khimeinism in Tehran could prevent the firebrand president from winning a second term.

Whether anyone likes it or not, and I certainly don't, Ahmadinejad remains popular with that shrinking constituency that still believes in the Khomeinist revolution. In the absence of normal freedoms, it is hard to establish the actual strength of that constituency.

Finally, Mr. Taheri points out the similarity between the current Iranian situation and several other countries and past leaders.

Regimes that lack domestic mechanisms for policy change are bound to have change imposed on them by external force.

Mr. Taheri seems to show that regime change in Iran can only come by external forces. Unfortunately, I believe the same.

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