The noose continues to tighten around Iran. As representatives from the P5+1 countries (the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) prepare to meet in Baghdad tomorrow to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, leaders from the G-8 summit took the unusual step of, well, doing something. The G-8 countries agreed to release oil from their strategic reserves in the event of disruptions to world oil supply caused by looming U.S. and EU sanctions on Iran’s oil exports.The Financial Times, which called it “an unprecedented joint agreement”, makes clear the political nature of the decision:
In the past, the [International Energy Agency] has seen its remit as purely economic—to offset a disruption in oil supplies.But the G8 now appears to be using the reserves with political objectives in mind. Michael Froman, Mr Obama’s deputy national security adviser for international economics, said the statement sent a signal to Tehran that the G8 would keep oil markets “fully and adequately supplied during this critical time”, in reference to the US and EU embargo on Iranian oil which comes into full effect at the end of June.
As the G8 agreement attests, Iran’s nuclear ambitions are not just a concern for America. Nor is support for the use of sanctions limited to the non-Islamic world. An Iranian bomb is a threat to the stability of the entire region: A new survey of 21 nations by Pew Global Attitudes found that “opposition to Iran obtaining nuclear weapons is widespread around the world, including in neighboring countries Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, and support for tough economic sanctions is high”, according to a summary in the Washington Post.We’re not sure whether the Baghdad conference will yield the kind of diplomatic breakthrough the sanctions are intended to provide. But the use of sanctions is a long-term game, and the pressure continues to mount on Tehran as the United States builds support around the world.