Saturday, August 26, 2006

Shock of all Shocks!

U.S. may bypass U.N. on Iran: LA Times

Sat Aug 26, 2006

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration has indicated it is prepared to form an independent coalition to freeze Iranian assets and restrict trade if the U.N. Security Council fails to penalize Tehran for its nuclear enrichment program, The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday.

A Security Council resolution gives Iran until August 31 to stop uranium enrichment, which could provide fuel to produce electricity or possibly atomic weapons, or face penalties.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said in an interview late this week that the United States planned to introduce a resolution imposing penalties such as a travel ban and asset freeze for key Iranian leaders soon after the August 31 deadline, the Times reported.

It said Bolton seemed optimistic that Security Council members China and Russia, which have been reluctant to impose sanctions, would agree to it once they saw the text. "Everybody's been on board," the Times quoted him as saying.

But on Friday Russia rejected for now efforts to impose sanctions after Tehran agreed to continue talks, but refused to halt enrichment.

In case Russia and China do not accept the resolution, Washington is working a parallel diplomatic track outside the United Nations, Bolton said.

Analysts say the strategy reflects not only long-standing U.S. frustration with the Security Council's inaction on Iran, but also the current weakness of Washington's position because of its controversial role in a series of conflicts in the Middle East, most recently in Lebanon, the Times said.

Under U.S. terrorism laws, Washington could ramp up its own sanctions, including financial constraints on Tehran and interception of missile and nuclear materials en route to Iran, Bolton said, and the United States is encouraging other countries to follow suit.

"You don't need Security Council authority to impose sanctions, just as we have," he said. The United States has had broad restrictions on almost all trade with Iran since 1987.

The Times said Bolton and U.S. Treasury officials refused to provide details on which countries might be interested in joining in sanctions, citing the "sensitivity" of the talks.


[sarcasm: on]

It's just not like the Bush administration to deviate from previous strategy.

[sarcasm: off]