US and Israel run out of options against Iran
IRAN and the United States are once again locked in a war of words over Iran’s alleged secret nuclear military program. Tehran has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz - a narrow passage through which some 80 per cent of the Gulf region’s oil is exported to the outside world - should the US and its allies impose more sanctions affecting the export of Iranian oil.
It has also just tested a medium-range missile and announced that it has produced its first nuclear rod.
Washington has vowed to keep Hormuz open and prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. This raises the spectre of yet another military confrontation in the region.
Despite all its domestic problems and foreign policy complications, Iran is a difficult target to contain politically and economically, and subdue militarily.
Its hardline Islamic regime has much in geopolitical assets to enable it to circumvent US-led containment efforts and make a military assault on Iran costly.
Labouring under US and UN sanctions and Israel’s threat of military action, Tehran has vigorously sought to achieve a degree of domestic self-sufficiency and diversity in its economic and trade relations to enable it to survive further pressure from the West.
It has shifted away from the financially and economically troubled European Union towards the economically booming Asian countries.
Iranian-Chinese economic relations have reached new heights. In 2010, China became Iran’s largest trading partner, with a trade volume of $US30 billion.
China imports 11 per cent of its oil needs from Iran, and has signed many deals with Tehran for investment in Iran’s construction, and oil and gas sectors.
Similarly, Iranian-Japanese, Iranian-Indian and Iranian-South Korean trade ties now exceed Iran’s economic relations with its traditional European trading partners, France, Germany and Italy.