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Tactics include provocations, subversion, fake accusations, isolation, covert or direct confrontation, cyberwar, and punishing sanctions, coming perilously close to acts or war.
In the past five years, four harsh rounds were imposed. In mid-December, Congress enacted another. They're included in the FY 2012 NDAA. They're aimed at penalizing foreign financial institutions doing business with Tehran's central bank. It's the main oil revenue conduit. US corporations, including banks, already can't deal with Iran.
Additional measures expanded sanctions on companies doing oil related business, including investments, selling Iran refinery goods and services, as well as providing Tehran with refined products worth $5 million or more annually.
On December 31, Obama signed the new law. He has 180 days to implement it. He calls it the stiffest measure yet, saying:
"Our intent is to implement this law in a timed and phased approach so that we avoid repercussions to the oil market and ensure that this damages Iran and not the rest of the world."
He has discretionary power to grant waivers, provided they're in America's national interest. Energy analysts fear enactment means disruptively higher oil prices. Others worry that confrontation may follow rogue bullying.
Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Iran's naval forces can readily block the Strait of Hormuz in response to hostile Western actions.
He spoke a day after Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned not a drop of oil would pass through the Strait if Iran's oil exports are sanctioned. If so, expect energy prices to skyrocket until normal flows resume. Also expect retaliation, perhaps including direct US-Iranian confrontation.
Targeting Iran's nuclear program is a ruse. Tehran insists it's peaceful. Nothing proves otherwise. The most recent March 2011 US intelligence consensus agrees. It found no evidence of weapons development. At issue is regime change. Reasons are invented as pretext.
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