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Tuesday, November 13

Gordon Brown channels Sarkozy

On last night's Loftus Report John Batchelor mentioned this news item from the Financial Times. Britain's prime minister has come out with guns blazing on Iran and he's chastised America bashers in Europe and Britain.

First Nicolas Sarkozy's speech to Congress and now this speech from Gordon Brown. How much good news can we take in one week?

The Financial Times sniffs that Brown has not really differentiated his view on Iran from that of his predecessor's. I think there are indications in Brown's speech that he's caught up with Nicolas Sarkozy's tough stance on Iran and that he's willing to entertain sanctions that Tony Blair wasn't prepared to consider while in office.

As to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's position on Iran, she came out of her meeting with Bush a little stronger than she went in -- Loftus reported a rumor that Bush showed her a "ton" of intel on Iran's nuke program. However, Malcolm Hoenlein reported to the Loftus audience on the bottom line for Merkel:

There are 5,000 German companies doing business with Iran and much of that business is 'dual-use' technology; i.e., technologies that can be converted for nuclear weapon development.

As to the argument that if German companies don't supply the technologies to Iran China will take up the slack -- Malcolm said that China doesn't have the technologies.

Malcolm's figure is much higher than the one supplied by the International Herald Tribune in September:
At least 1,700 German companies are active in Iran, including household names like Siemens and BASF. Many of these connections go back decades, though few companies like to advertise that nowadays. Siemens, for example, supplies locomotives and gas turbines to Iran. "We're not giving out much information, primarily because of security issues," a spokesman, Wolfram Trost, said.
In any case, Germany did $5.7 billion worth of trade with Iran in 2006, according to the IHT report on Germany's halting attempts to disengage from business in Iran.

As to Russia -- look at your watch. Right this minute, Russia is considering doing less business with Iran. Loftus reported last night that they've canceled a LukeOil contract with Iran and pulled out of some other business deals. Who knows what they'll do about the issue ten minutes from now.

But right now that leaves everyone else sitting around the P5+1 table and asking China, 'What have you done to brake your business ties with Iran?'

China's rulers are living in terror of inflationary pressures in China, which includes dealing with the rising cost of petroleum, as John Batchelor grimly pointed out on his Sunday show and again on the Loftus Report last night.
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