Iran: Smugglers Threaten Stability


July 12, 2006: The government is taking a financial beating because of low gas prices (about 35 cents a gallon). Lack of refineries means that most gasoline has to be imported. The low price means there is lots of smuggling, especially into Iraq (up to two million gallons a day). The government can't raise the gasoline price without risking a major popular uprising. But the gasoline shortage is also producing rationing and shortages, which aren't very popular either. There is also some fuel smuggling into Afghanistan and Pakistan. But on that border the bigger problem is the drugs being smuggled in. These supplies of opium and heroin keep nearly three million Iranians doped up. The number of addicts is growing at over ten percent a year.
July 11, 2006: Despite growing unity among the major nations on the UN security council, Iran continues to act like it believes it can keep its nuclear weapons program going without fear of sanctions.
July 9, 2006: Oil revenues are running at the rate of some $54 billion a year.
July 5, 2006: The government put off the start of nuclear weapons restrictions negotiations for a week, because they feared their negotiators were the target of death squads operating in Belgium, where the talks are to take place. The Europeans are expected to take all this with a straight face.


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