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BBC Monitoring Service: U.S. plan for Iran’s containment

EXTRACT: There are several big gas and oil projects on the drawing board, including a 10 billion dollars investment by Royal Dutch Shell and the Spanish oil company Repsol YFP to develop Irans South Pars gas field, one of the worlds biggest natural gas deposits…

THE ARTICLE

Text of report in English by Iranian Mehr news agency in English

TEHRAN: A greater share of the US-UK aggregate effort against the nation of Iran is heavily focused on a relatively more conspicuous course of action such as the enforcement of UN sanctions, which are meant to strangle the Iranian economy and consequently intensify social tension in order to undermine Iran’s system and social fabric.

To carry out a long-term plan of comprehensive containment, just as it did during the Cold War era against the Soviet Union, the West, headed by the US, has to prevent the economic centres of the world, particularly the European Union, from having capital investment, financial, and commercial dealings with Iran.

At the centre of the containment policy lie a number of tactics, such as blocking foreign capital investment, particularly in the Iranian oil and gas sectors, forcing foreign banks not to issue commercial and government-backed credit guarantees, denying export licenses to companies that have dealings with those that have capital investment in Irans oil and gas industries, preventing Iranian import-export banks from conducting financial transactions with foreign banks, and lastly carrying out physical inspections of ships entering or leaving Iranian ports in the Persian Gulf.

The US goal is to be able to impose penalties on the foreign companies that have investments in Irans oil and natural gas sectors. Without a doubt, this is a brazen case of extra-territoriality, by which one nation imposes its domestic laws on foreign companies and sovereign nations. The US administration, with the help of the Democratic majority in Congress, is tempted to invoke a statute enacted in 1996 that permits the US government to punish any foreign energy company doing business with Iran. To pull this off, the US government has to go against such energy companies as Shell, Repsol, and the Malaysian oil company SKS, as well as the governments of China, India, Pakistan, and Malaysia.

There are several big gas and oil projects on the drawing board, including a 10 billion dollars investment by Royal Dutch Shell and the Spanish oil company Repsol YFP to develop Irans South Pars gas field, one of the worlds biggest natural gas deposits, and a $20 billion investment by SKS Ventures of Malaysia to extract natural gas in Irans Golshan and Ferdows fields. Should these projects come to fruition in the next several years, Iran will be able to expand its productive and export capacities manyfold and far into the future. But the US and the UK, not seeing themselves in the drivers seat, plan to spoil developments in both the nuclear and the hydrocarbon energy sectors.

But can the US, being in such hot water in Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela, and many other places, afford to provoke a possible fight with Europe and Asia? There is a very low probability for such an adventure. What is obvious is that Washington has been careful not to advocate any kind of boycott that might send the price of a barrel of oil to $100 and sink the frail US economy into deep recession.

So far the US has been able to use an earlier United Nations Security Council resolution to pressure some European banks to abstain from dealings with 10 Iranian companies and a dozen individuals in high places. What the US wishes to do is to dictate to all of the worlds banks and businesses to boycott all Iranian financial and economic entities. Iran has commercial dealings with more than 70 countries in six continents that have thousands of corporations. Therefore, the US plans are just wishful thinking.

But no sanctions are complete without halting and inspecting ships and aircraft on their way to and from the targeted country. Overwhelmed by the formidable challenges of the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States assigned the task of violating the territorial waters and inspecting the ships approaching Iran or departing its ports to its junior partner, Britain.

Both the US, with the presence of its threatening aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, the biggest concentration of weaponry in the region since the US invasion of Iraq, and the UK, had decided to test the will power of the government of Iran. In turn, Tehran was also aware of the historical challenge to its honour and legitimacy. It deliberately took the bull by the horns and broke the myth of the invincibility of the major powers under the cover of the United Nations mandate.

The fact is that this is not the first time that Britain has waved a mandate issued by an international organization as a license to police Iraq and its territorial waters. Once before, in 1920, the League of Nations not only gave Britain a mandate over all of Iraq but also made sure that Britain would hold the mandate over that country for years. Such has been the nature of the international organizations set up by the imperialist powers to be used as a tool of oppression against Third World countries. This time it didnt work.

Source: Mehr news agency, Tehran, in English 1935 gmt 22 May 07

BBC Monitoring

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