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Austria’s Iran Deal

Austria’s Chancellor, Alfred Gusenbauer, issued a stern warning to Iran while on a visit to Israel. According to the Associated Press, he said: “Iran must not only slow down its uranium enrichment activities, but stop it completely.” Gusenbauer continued, rather cryptically: “we have to track closely the sanctions on Iran, and even move beyond them.”

It’s not clear what “moving beyond sanctions” means, in practice. Austria’s energy giant, OMV, has just recently signed a deal with the Iranian government worth $18 billion. The deal is part of the Nabucco pipeline project, an ambitious attempt to diversify EU energy supplies—where Iran will supply the lion’s share. If all goes well, Iran’s gas fields will be linked all the way to Austria sometime early in the next decade. At which point, the meaning of “going beyond sanctions” will probably become clearer: letting business partnerships with Iran dictate European attitudes on the country’s nuclearization program.


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