Tuesday, June 8, 2010

FP morning brief 6/8

United Nations Security Council begins final Iran sanctions push

Top story: The United States began its final push for a fourth round of sanctions against Iran at the United Nations Security Council, with a vote expected as early as Wednesday. As part of their efforts to gain the support of other Security Council members, U.S. officials have held classified intelligence briefings for foreign leaders to prove that Iran has restarted research on the components necessary to build a nuclear weapon. European and Americans sources expect the sanctions resolution to pass the Security Council handily, with only Turkey, Brazil, and Lebanon in the 15-country committee voting against them. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad struck a defiant note on the eve of the vote, saying that Iran would refuse to negotiate over its nuclear program if sanctions were imposed.

But even as the international community prepares another round of "smart" sanctions, a New York Times investigation details how adept the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) has become at evading restrictions. The state-owned maritime shipping company has set up a series of shell companies, most of which are owned by high-ranking IRISL officials, to disguise the true ownership of its vessels. They have also given the vessels new names, making it a challenge for U.S. Treasury Department blacklists to keep up. This complex web of paperwork has allowed IRISL to avoid punishment afte the United States tightened restrictions on the company in 2008.

Arrests in Polish plane wreck theft: Four Russian soldiers have been charged with stealing the credit cards of a passenger found amidst the wreckage of the Polish president's plane, which crashed in Russia in April. Russian authorities had initially denied that the theft had taken place. Around $3,000 was withdrawn from the cards, according to Polish investigators.

Chinese authorities said that three people were shot dead by a North Korean border guard.
Japan's new prime minister, Naoto Kan, promised to take "vigorous" steps to combat the country's national debt.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh renewed his offer to talk with Kashmiri separatists.
Middle East
At least 11 Iraqis have been killed by insurgents in a wave of attacks across the country.
A U.S. missile was used in an attack on al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen, according to Amnesty International.
The Israel Defense Forces announced that it had set up an internal team of investigators to look into last week's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.
Spanish public sector employees went on strike against the country's new austerity measures.
Germany's cabinet gave its support to Chancellor Angela Merkel to implement deficit-cutting measures.
Catholic reform groups that are demanding the right of women to be ordained as priests held a protest march in the Vatican.
U.S. President Barack Obama suggested that he would fire BP CEO Tony Hayward over comments that Hayward made over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The head of a UN-backed anti-corruption commission in Guatemala resigned, citing the government's lack of reform.
Bolivian President Evo Morales was re-elected as head of the country's largest coca-growers union.
Ugandan officials reversed an earlier statement that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir would not be invited to July's African Union conference in Kampala.
African Union peacekeepers reported that last May was the most violent month in Sudan's Darfur region since 2008.
South Africa opened the continent's first high-speed train, meant to accommodate visitors arriving for the World Cup.
-David Kenner

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