Monday, June 23, 2008

EU Imposes Sanctions Against Iran (After Offering Incentives)

No sooner than French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the Israeli Knesset than a nuclear Iran would be "unacceptable", the European Union has announced a new round of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. This consists mostly of freezing the European assets of Bank Melli, which is Iran's National Bank.

However, it should be noted that last week EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana last week travelled to Tehran to meet with senior Iranian officials to present a package of incentives for Iran to discontinue enriching uranium. Despite the sanctions, these incentives are still on the table. Iran has not replied to the EU offer.

The EU is getting better on Iran and this measure does somewhat make up for dropping sanctions against Cuba last week. But methinks a mixed message is being sent to Iran. Sure, diplomacy is a mixture of carrots and sticks. Yet if the world wanted to send a message to Iran it would stop buying its oil and gas. Of course, that won't happen with Russia and China around.

Yet I think Solana's trip to Tehran was premature. Iran hasn't shown a willingness to budge on anything. They have not demonstrated themselves to be amenable to reason. They are determined to proceed with the nuclear program come hell or high water. If the Iranians were to allow full inspections, institute some political reforms or tone down its rhetoric against Israel then there would be grounds for Solana and the EU to meet with Iran. Instead Tehran is being presented with all these goodies without having to be good at all. It is like offering candy to a child who insists on being petulent.

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