A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
February 8, 2010 Peace Talks? Iran Update
President Obama has been in office for a year, and since the day he took office his primary policy toward Iran has been one of outreach. His hope was that he could engage a regime that had no interest in being engaged. A year has gone by, deadlines have come and gone, and yesterday Iran announced publicly it was walking away from even the weakest of agreements that might have been made. It officially announced it was going to begin the further enrichment of uranium, stating that it needed the additional enriched uranium for “advanced” medical research, as an excuse. There are those who are saying Iran might still come around, but that is no more than wishful thinking. What has the United States achieved for its year of delay? Probably, the support of Russia in imposing strong sanctions on Iran. It has not received the support of China, who is always reluctant to impose sanctions, and certainly does not like taking any actions that will have any negative business consequences for China. If the Chinese oppose additional sanctions on Iran openly they will be able to block the Security Council for imposing them, and it will up to the West to unilaterally put the sanctions in place.
Complicating the imposition of sanctions has been the fear that any action might be used as a pretext to further crack down on the protestors. Most of the protestors who have been anonomously interviewed have stated they favor strong sanctions. These sanctions will be seen by the population to be the fault of the current regime and will only help the opposition. Today the European Union and the United States issued their first really strong statement condemning the crackdowns in Iran against the opposition. It also warned the Iranian government not to take actions against what is expected to be large demonstration on Thursday. (See full statement below). Whether there can be any justification for the dithering that has taken place in the past year remains to be seen, based on the level and serverity of sanctions imposed. They need to be much stronger than just the symbolic actions of the past.
JOINT STATEMENT BY THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE UNITED STATES CALLING ON THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT TO FULFIL ITS HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATIONS
The United States and the European Union condemn the continuing human rights violations in Iran since the June 12 election. The large scale detentions and mass trials, the threatened execution of protestors, the intimidation of family members of those detained and the continuing denial to its citizens of the right to peaceful expression are contrary to human rights norms.
Our concerns are based on our commitment to universal respect for human rights. We are particularly concerned by the potential for further violence and repression during the coming days, especially around the anniversary of the Islamic Republic's founding on 11 February. We call on the Government of Iran to live up to its international human rights obligations, to end its abuses against its own people, to hold accountable those who have committed the abuses and to release those who are exercising their rights.