Politics Doing business with Iran will help Central Asia stabilize the region
Does Iran even need spies in academia?
A number of American academics long have done Iran’s public messaging free of charge. After his arrest, Afrasiabi's alleged handlers at Iran's United Nations Mission defended him by invoking his credentials, insisting that "Dr. Afrasiabi has not been working as an agent of the Mission, and only as a university professor and an expert on international relations." The two aren't mutually exclusive.
To the United States, Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and a nuclear proliferation risk. But to its Central Asian neighbors, the Islamic Republic is a business opportunity.
Iran is paying attention to Central Asia, and its diplomats havethe five states in recent months as part of its "Look East" policy. In April 2021, Iran and Tajikistan to promote military cooperation.
In fact, "potential" is a misnomer, as neighboring Central Asian countries are trying to grow existing trade with Iran:
- Kazakhstan, which has the biggest Central Asian economy, recently discussedwith Iran, which will likely include moving beyond the Iran proposed in 2020, and building on the relationship deepened through the negotiations of the 2018 . The total (exports plus imports) was $375 million in 2019.
How Republicans Can Stop Biden from Lifting Iran Sanctions
Instead of diluting their principles, congressional Republicans should use every available procedural tool to force tough votes. Finally, Republicans should make clear that they will swiftly reimpose any sanctions relief provided to Iran by the Biden administration if they retake control of Congress in 2022 or the White House in 2024. Representative Mike Gallagher (R.,Wisc.) and Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) introduced resolutions in the House and Senate opposing any lifting of Iran sanctions.
- Uzbekistan, which has the biggest population in Central Asia,with Iran in late 2020 on implementing a mutual trade agreement. The double-landlocked country has also expressed an interest in using Iran's Chabahar port on the Gulf of Oman as a . The total was over $400 million in 2019.
- Turkmenistan, which shares an over 700-mile land and sea border with Iran, recently reopened another borderfor Iran trade, which was seriously impacted by the pandemic. Turkmenistan is also a party to the 2018 Caspian Sea Treaty. The total was over $400 million in 2018.
U.S. policies to sanction and isolate Iran are a tax on the region and may raise concerns that Washington is oblivious to the regional effects of its Iran program. Or maybe it just doesn't care.
US asks Iran to be 'pragmatic' as optimism rises on nuclear talks
The United States said Friday it offered "very serious" ideas on reviving the Iran nuclear accord but was waiting for Tehran to reciprocate as partner nations voiced optimism following talks in Vienna. But the official said the United States was waiting for its efforts to be "reciprocated" by Iran.President Joe Biden's administration has opened indirect diplomacy with Iran in hopes of returning to the 2015 agreement, which his predecessor Donald Trump trashed as he launched a "maximum pressure" campaign in hopes of bringing Tehran to its knees.
But care it should, for, though U.S. interest in the region is sporadic and transactional, healthy trade relations between Iran and its Central Asian partners will ensure Central Asian countries maintain their independence and contribute to regional stability, thus supporting U.S. objectives.
- As part of its Belt and Road Initiative, China has been accused of "debt-trap diplomacy." Recenthas shown there is no "smoking gun" evidence of a predatory loan program and the Chinese are just tough negotiators but healthy local economies will proof the states against taking on a loans they may later regret.
- Iran's ruling regime looks firmly in place and will stay that way until it isn't. Iran hasto import food as many potential traders are wary of dealing with it to avoid U.S. sanctions. Expanded trade with Central Asia may contribute to a "soft landing" if regime change turns violent and food security becomes Issue #1 for Iranians.
'Suspicious' blackout strikes Iran's Natanz nuclear site
Iran's underground Natanz nuclear facility lost power Sunday just hours after starting up new advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium faster, the latest incident to strike the site amid negotiations over the tattered atomic accord with world powers. © ASSOCIATED PRESS This satellite photo from Planet Labs Inc. shows Iran's Natanz nuclear facility on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Iran's Natanz nuclear site suffered a problem Sunday, April 11, involving its electrical distribution grid just hours after starting up new advanced centrifuges that more quickly enrich uranium, state TV reported.
The U.S. can always strongarm the smaller states to shun Iran, but it should instead explicitly signal it favors increased regional trade in the interest of stability. This will also make a positive impression on the region's population, whichRussia and China more positively than it does America.
Iran's "Look East" policy is a return to its interest in Central Asia in the 1990s, but it was thenby the newly-independent states that feared Iran would try to export the Islamic revolution and weaken the separation of state and religion.
Iran has natural heft from its size and location astride trade routes. It will be wise to tread carefully this time as it will need Central Asian cooperation in the event of future instability in Afghanistan, and because its financial position is parlous.
Much was made of the announcement of China's 25-year, $400 billion dollar investment program for Iran, but Iran has nevermore than $5 billion per year in foreign direct investment from all sources. How it will absorb $16 billion per year from China alone is unknown.
Attack on Iran's Natanz plant muddies US, Iran nuke talks
WASHINGTON (AP) — The attack on Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility is casting a major shadow over Tuesday’s resumption of indirect talks between the U.S. and Iran over resurrection of the international accord limiting Iran's nuclear program. Neither Iran nor the U.S. say the incident will crater the negotiations. But the attack and the destruction of a significant amount of Iran’s uranium enrichment capability add uncertainty to the discussions in Vienna. The attack gives both sides reason to harden their positions, yet each has incentives to keep the talks on track.
Unlike President Obama, General Secretary Xi won't send Iran pallets of cash. China will invest enough to keep the discounted oil flowing and ensure Iranian purchases of Chinese foods and services, in addition to political concessions like siting Chinese intelligence gathering stations.
Sanctions are crushing Iran's economy whichby almost 5 percent in 2020, and Trump's maximum pressure campaign forced Tehran to spend nearly all its , ending 2020 with just $4 billion.
The Biden administration will throw the mullahs a lifeline to try to buy its way back into the Iran nuclear deal, but it won't be enough for immediate, widespread relief.
What it means for Central Asia is that Iran will be anxious to do business both to offset its subordinate relationship with China and to ensure friendly faces in the neighborhood. Iran's trade with Central Asian countries helps stabilize a region that will experience turbulence in the wake of the U.S. departure from Afghanistan and it will ensure the small states can better balance between Russia, China, Turkey, and - eventually - Iran.
James Durso () is the Managing Director of Corsair LLC, a supply chain consultancy. He was a professional staff member at the 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission and the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Durso served as a U.S. Navy officer for 20 years and specialized in logistics and security assistance. His overseas military postings were in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and he served in Iraq as a civilian transport advisor with the Coalition Provisional Authority. He served afloat as Supply Officer of the submarine USS SKATE (SSN 578).
Iran's top diplomat speaks bluntly on nuclear deal, Gen. Qassam Soleimani in leaked recording .
The release of the comments by Mohammad Javad Zarif, seen as a potential presidential candidate, set off a firestorm within Iran.The release of the comments by Mohammad Javad Zarif set off a firestorm within Iran, where officials carefully mind their words amid a cut-throat political environment that includes the powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, ultimately overseen by the country's supreme leader. Zarif has been suggested as a possible candidate for Iran's June 18 presidential election as well.