NEWS: U.S. builds up pressure on Iran; Bolton backs Israeli strike; ElBaradei’s inconvenient deal

U.S. ramps up pressure on Iran

One year after the United States launched an intensified global economic campaign against Iran with the stated aim of halting Tehran’s nuclear work, the Bush administration is counting its successes — and calling for still more pressure.

In recent months, once-reluctant European countries have joined the effort, which some are calling a financial war, with more vigor.

Germany’s largest bank, Deutsche Bank AG, said recently that it would stop doing business in Iran. France has trimmed export credits that encourage business in Iran and advised French firms, including the oil and gas giant Total S.A., not to start new investments there. Even Japan, heavily dependent on Persian Gulf oil, has pulled back from energy projects in Iran. [complete article]

Bolton: US would support preemptive Israeli strike on Iran

President Bush’s former United Nations ambassador John Bolton said the United States would stand behind a pre-emptive strike by Israel against countries developing “WMD facilities.”

In his remark, printed in Tuesday’s edition of the Israeli daily Yediot Achronot, Bolton directly referenced Iran.

“The greatest concern is to prevent Iran and other countries in the region from acquiring nuclear weapons,” Bolton said, according to, a Jewish news service. “We’re talking about a clear message to Iran — Israel has the right to self-defense –and that includes offensive operations against WMD facilities that pose a threat to Israel. The United States would justify such attacks.” [complete article]

Iran’s pact threatens to wrongfoot the West

Diplomats from the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council and from Germany are to discuss Iran tomorrow, amid disagreement over whether to impose a new round of UN sanctions.

Although the US, UK and France are determined to renew pressure on Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment programme, this new drive in Washington for UN sanctions is unlikely to get far, as it will be blocked by Russia and China.

At the heart of the dispute is an accord between Iran and Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency – the UN nuclear watchdog. [complete article]

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