Friday, March 30, 2007

Iran - Here's A Plan

If i hear one more time that negotiation is the only option, that there's nothing we can do, that we have to give 'talks' a chance, i will shoot someone.

We are looking weak and incompetent. America's former ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, yesterday pointed this out,

"The softly softly approach Britain has adopted over Iran's nuclear programme has emboldened the Iranians to the point where they can say: "We can do something as outrageous as seize 15 of their citizens and they won't do anything in response."

Here's what we can do. And it doesn't involve death or destruction.

Iran has a gasoline problem. Yes - I know it's amazing coming from the country sitting on the world's third largest store of oil. But whilst Iran is awash in cheap heavy crude, it is desperately short of refining capacity to turn that crude into petrol. It currently imports 40% of its gasoline from abroad, mainly from India via the Strait of Hormuz.

However, Iran has a second problem. In a bid for popularity, it currently massively subsidises the price of gasoline for its consumers to the tune of $7bn per annum. Whilst petrol retails for 15 cents a litre, the cost of importing refined crude is 45 cents. The government has spent the past two years figuring out how to ease this huge financial burden and last year temporarily introduced petrol rationing.

Hence a measure that would devastate the popularity of the ruling powers in Iran, possibly leading to their overthrow, and all the while not threatening the lives of ordinary Iranians (albeit inconveniencing them), would be for the British to push for a blockade of all gasoline imports into Iran.

Given that the Strait of Hormuz is just 21 miles at one point (see above), enforcing a blockade would be straightforward.

Tony Blair has to show to other potential kidnappers of his defence forces that we take these matters seriously, or we may as well just issue 'kidnap-one-get-one-free' vouchers to all would-be despotic tyrants.

Tony - your move. The world's watching.