May 27, 2010: Iran’s deal to send 1.2 tons of low grade (not enriched enough for nuclear weapons) uranium to Turkey and Brazil, is seen as a publicity stunt. Western nations are still determined to impose stricter sanctions. But many business and government officials in the Persian Gulf doubt that stronger sanctions will change the Iranian government. The Iranians will pay more to evade the sanctions, and increase persecution of local opponents.
But one form of sanctions would have a significant impact. If new sanctions prohibited investments in the Iranian oil industry, Iranian efforts to get foreign companies to bid on $200 billion in oil field development contracts (over the next five years), would collapse. Without someone, who has the technical skills and proper equipment, to develop the oil fields, Iranian production will sharply decline, and so would the oil revenue the religious dictatorship uses to reward its supporters. But Iran is certain that China will block UN approved sanctions, and be available to bid on those contracts, and do the work. Meanwhile, Russia is willing to go along with sanctions, as long as it can continue to sell Iran “defensive weapons” (like the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system.) Meanwhile, Western nations have intensified their detection, arrest and prosecution of smugglers trying to obtain weapons technology for Iran. This angers Russia and China, which see Iran as a legitimate customer for this stuff.