Standoff in Iran deepens with new show of force

Standoff in Iran deepens with new show of force

Iranian authorities sent police officers into the streets to deter protests on Friday as Mir Hussein Moussavi, the principal opposition leader, said in a statement that he did not fear giving his life as “a martyr.”

The continuing show of force in the capital and Mr. Moussavi’s declaration, in which he said that even killing him would not end the unrest, were part of a day of charges, countercharges and warnings from both sides, illustrating the deep divisions that have emerged since Iran’s political crisis began six months ago.

The government and its hard-line supporters continued to rely on force, and the threat of force, to quell protests and demand loyalty, while the opposition refused to back down. There was no indication that compromise was on the agenda. [continued…]

Chinese-made armored anti-riot trucks, equipped with plows, may arrive in Tehran

An opposition news website is reporting that Iran has imported high-tech armored anti-riot vehicles equipped with water cannons that can douse people with boiling water or teargas.

The U.S.-based Persian-language news website Rahesabz, or Green Path, posted a photograph of what it described as a photograph of two of the trucks arriving at the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas in the south.

Iran-trucks3 The website said the vehicles were a rush order from their manufacturers in China, Dalian Eagle-Sky, according to the blogger Sohrebestan. [continued…]

Neocons worried that sanctions might not kill enough innocent Iranians

Wednesday’s Washington Post contains a rundown of the Obama administration’s current thinking on Iran sanctions. The bottom line: administration officials are increasingly open to sanctions, but want to find ways to target the Revolutionary Guard and other hardline elements within the regime without inflicting needless suffering on the civilian population. For that reason, the administration shows “little apparent interest in legislation racing through Congress that would punish companies that sell refined petroleum to Iran,” whose brunt would be borne by the most vulnerable segments of the populace. (”Look, we need to be honest about this,” neoconservative foreign policy guru Fred Kagan admitted this spring. “Iranians are going to die if we impose additional sanctions.”)

Even these more finely targeted sanctions appear to be more than the Iranian opposition desires. Spencer Ackerman, in his useful discussion of the Green Movement’s position on sanctions, notes that some elements of the opposition have come to view sanctions that specifically target the Revolutionary Guards in a more favorable light, but it appears that most continue to oppose sanctions in any form. (And of course, it appears that virtually no one in the Green Movement supports refined petroleum sanctions, which opposition leaders have repeatedly denounced.) [continued…]

Iran warns West it will make its own nuclear fuel

Iran set a one-month deadline Saturday for the West to accept its counterproposal to a U.N.-drafted nuclear plan and warned that otherwise it will produce reactor fuel at a higher level of enrichment on its own.

The warning was a show of defiance and a hardening of Iran’s stance over its nuclear program, which the West fears masks an effort to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran insists its program is only for peaceful purposes, such as electricity production, and says it has no intention of making a bomb.

”We have given them an ultimatum. There is one month left and that is by the end of January,” Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, speaking on state television. [continued…]

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