Friday, April 28, 2006

Iran and Bush Administration Games

One of these days, somebody's going to write the history of the Bush Administration's convoluted and frequently botched handling of North Korea; on too many occassions, there was so much free-lancing going on by administration figures that Bush's right hand often didn't know what the left hand was doing. It's possible we're now seeing the same thing with Iran. I confess I don't read Newsweek or Time as closely as I once did but here's an excerpt from Newsweek about Iran from a Japanese perspective:
Iran is a prime example of the dilemma facing Tokyo. For years Japan has been doing its best to shore up relations with the mullahs in Tehran, even though policymakers know that Washington disapproves of its overtures. Iran provides 15 percent of Japan's oil, making it the country's third largest supplier (behind Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates). Two years ago, as part of an increasing effort to secure ownership of reserves rather than simply buying oil on the open market, Tokyo decided to make a strategic investment in the vast Azadegan field along Iran's border with Iraq. The Japanese oil major Inpex is investing $2 billion to develop the field, the biggest onshore production project in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Critics warned that Iran's burgeoning nuclear ambitions could complicate the deal—a prediction that now appears to be coming true. In March a Japanese newspaper reported that U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick had "informally" asked Tokyo to write off its investment in Azadegan. Both sides quickly denied the report. But the sense of anxiety is palpable. One Japanese businessman in Iran tells NEWSWEEK that "we're now getting worried about what would happen if the situation escalates."

It's useful to keep in mind that the Bush Administration is no more competent today than it was five years ago. So, who knows what the story is.

1 Comments:

Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Where does "Sellout Bob" Zoellick get off asking the Japanese to write off anything, much less a $2 billion oil field investment?

Why do I suspect that because this situation offers such splendid twofer opportunities to generate ill will, Bush & Co. won't be able to resist? Not that they're likely to feel the least bit inhibited.

9:43 PM  

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