Simon Tisdall / 29 Sept 09 / Guardiansimon_tisdall_140x140-1

Despite strong words from Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, there is no sign of a consensus on what additional sanctions should or could be imposed by the international community if Iran continues to ignore concerns about its suspect nuclear programmes. Tehran is meanwhile busy taking pre-emptive measures to mitigate any UN or unilateral punishment, despatching diplomatic missions to China, central Asia and Venezuela and stockpiling petrol and gas in case of winter shortages.

The option preferred by many in the US Congress – a ban on exports to Iran of refined fuel products including petrol – looks like a non-starter. Iran is seen as vulnerable on this front since it imports 40% of its gasoline. But it has the world’s second largest proven crude oil reserves and China is the world’s second largest crude oil importer. For American hawks this is a marriage made in hell. But no divorce is in prospect.

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