U.S. tightens exports to China’s chipmaker SMIC, citing risk of military use
Stratfor reports: “A formal agreement between the United States and Iran is imminent, Stratfor sources say. According to the unconfirmed reports, the agreement will include informally accepting Iran as the dominant foreign power in Lebanon. Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has tried to use Iran’s negotiations with the United States to convince Lebanon’s Maronite Christian, Druze and Sunni political factions that they face little choice but to accommodate Hezbollah’s political demands, including a proposal to divide up the Cabinet and reallocate seats in the parliament to give the Shiite more representation.”
Implications: China and Russia will hasten to make their own deals with Iran to counter US influence. In Tehran to prepare President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China wants to “enhance its ties and cooperation with Iran to a strategic level.” (Hat tip: M.K. Bhadrakumar). Russia signed a joint military cooperation with Iran Jan. 20. Still in question is whether Russia will supply Iran with its S-300 air defense system and if so, in what version.
Raghida Dergham, the senior diplomatic correspondent for the Arab-language daily al-Hayat, wrote Feb. 13 that “Such an agreement would launch a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
Success in the negotiations, in turn, may not lead to curbing a nuclear arms race because success requires essentially admitting to Iran’s nuclear abilities that would be a “screw’s turn” away from making nuclear bombs. This means, as Henry Kissinger told the Armed Services Committee in the House of Representatives, that the Obama administration transferred nuclear negotiations from being the subject of an international consensus on non-proliferation and on preventing Iran from having the capacity to develop nuclear weapons, into being the subject of bilateral talks about the “scope” of that capacity for a specified period of time. This means moving from trying to prevent nuclear proliferation to trying to manage it.
It would also mean consenting to Iran’s military nuclear capabilities, which could lead the countries in the region to insist on their right to have those capabilities as well, perhaps by buying them rather than trying to develop them domestically.