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Overhauling the Iran Sanctions Act

Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008

As President-elect Barack Obama's national security team prepares to take office in January, the Turkish government is readying to outflank the U.S.'s Iran policy on a vast scale, having signed a milestone agreement in November to invest $12 billion in Iran's energy sector. The move presents an immediate conflict between Washington's efforts to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions and its desire to wean Europe from Russian energy dependence. As a result, the Obama administration will be forced to choose between overhauling American efforts to isolate Iran or inviting a sour demonstration of America's waning influence among close allies.

As part of the announced deal, Turkey will expand Iran's production capacity and ultimately gain access to 13 billion cubic meters a year of Iranian natural gas -- enough to cover the current imports of Greece, Romania and Bulgaria combined. The deal advances Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan's efforts to transform his country into a vital energy hub for Europe and sends an alarming signal to Washington: the old diplomatic tools are not working. ...

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