Monday, August 07, 2006

Another Nice Mess

NYTimes (08.05.06):
"The United States has imposed sanctions on seven foreign companies, two of them Russian, for providing Iran with materials that could be used to make unconventional weapons or cruise or ballistic missile systems, it was announced Friday. The two Russian companies are Rosoboronexport, the state-owned arms trading monopoly, and Sukhoi, a large manufacturer of military and civilian aircraft." U.S. Puts Sanctions on 7 Foreign Companies Dealing With Iran
Even though Russia does huge business with Iran ["(l)ate last year, Russia signed an agreement to ship $1 billion in weaponry to Iran"], some Russkis are convinced that the sanctions were really imposed "because of Rosoboronexport's announcement last month of $3 billion in arms deals with Venezuela." In any event, they're pretty pissed off. Reuters (08.07.06):
"The foreign ministry has called the sanctions an 'illegitimate attempt' to make foreign companies work by American rules. Moscow's press reacted sharply, the daily Izvestia calling the U.S. move 'practically a declaration of economic war against Russia'. Kommersant's frontpage headline said: 'The Strategic Partnership between the U.S. and Russia has Ended.'" US sanctions threaten Russian ties: analysts
Perhaps the trump card in all of this is that Rosoboronexport is run by a close friend of President Vladimir Putin", so expect old Vladimir to get an earful. "'This is going to be very serious because this threatens President Putin and some of his very closest people,' Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based defense analyst, told Reuters." In addition, there are also some very considerable concerns in the US, particularly at Boeing. Rosoboronexport is looking to buy "the world's biggest titanium maker, Russia's VSMPO-Avisma, which supplies 35-40 percent of the titanium used by U.S. plane maker Boeing." Boeing's reliance on Russian titanium has been Boeing's doing. According to a "critic", Boeing "taught the Russians how to make high-quality titanium" in the first place. As well, Aeroflot's looking to buy $3 billion worth of passenger planes. Could be from Boeing. Or it could be from Boeing's European competitor Airbus. Sukhoi "has been working with Boeing on a joint venture to develop a regional passenger airliner, but it is not clear whether that project will be affected." An interesting side note to this one is that one of Sukhoi/Boeing's main competitors in this market is Brazil's Embraer, who has been working with Lockheed to outfit Embraer's planes with a spanking-new Army spy package. How's that been going? You may not want to know. In any event, that it also might not be helpful over at the UN didn't seem to faze our boys. "A senior Bush administration official [who was "not authorized to speak publicly on the issue"], questioned about the timing of the sanctions announced Friday, given that the United States is trying to hold the Russians in a coalition to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, said that 'there’s never a good time' to impose sanctions. 'They know the law,' he added." My, my. Our "senior Bush administration official" sounds a bit imperious, don't you think.


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