Iran's deal to send 1.2 tons of low grade (not enriched enough for nuclear weapons) uranium to Turkey and Brazil, is seen as a publicity stunt. Western nations are still determined to impose stricter sanctions. But many business and government officials in the Persian Gulf doubt that stronger sanctions will change the Iranian government. The Iranians will pay more to evade the sanctions, and increase persecution of local opponents.
But one form of sanctions would have a significant impact. If new sanctions prohibited investments in the Iranian oil industry, Iranian efforts to get foreign companies to bid on $200 billion in oil field development contracts (over the next five years), would collapse. Without someone, who has the technical skills and proper equipment, to develop the oil fields, Iranian production will sharply decline, and so would the oil revenue the religious dictatorship uses to reward its supporters. But Iran is certain that China will block UN approved sanctions, and be available to bid on those contracts, and do the work. Meanwhile, Russia is willing to go along with sanctions, as long as it can continue to sell Iran "defensive weapons" (like the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system.) Meanwhile, Western nations have intensified their detection, arrest and prosecution of smugglers trying to obtain weapons technology for Iran. This angers Russia and China, which see Iran as a legitimate customer for this stuff.
Iran is using three American hikers, arrested after they strayed across the border in northern Iraq ten months ago, as trade bait to get captured Iranian terrorists released. There are several of these agents jailed in Iraq, and two were recently released after Iran allowed the mothers of the three hikers to visit their children. Iran wants a lot more of their terrorism advisors released before the hikers are freed. Negotiations (in secret) continue.
Meanwhile, Iran is becoming more aggressive overseas with its agents assigned to observe, and sometimes kill, exiled Iranians who oppose the religious dictatorship back home. These agents mainly collect information, seeking to identify the exiles causing the most trouble. The government then seeks to quiet the exiles by threatening family members still in Iran. If that doesn't work, the exiles will sometimes be murdered.
Inside Iran, the conservatives are increasingly confident that they have the reformers beaten, at least for the moment. As a result, the lifestyle police are more active, especially targeting unmarried young men and women caught together in public. Expensive cars are being seized (if unmarried couples were found inside), and women punished for not covering up. Iran is also allowing al Qaeda members, and their families, more freedom of movement. Because al Qaeda is a radical Sunni organization, that considers Shia Moslems heretics (nearly all Iranians are Shia), Iran has long provided sanctuary for al Qaeda, but kept them under house arrest, and observation.
After much internal debate, and growing frustration with Iranian nuclear weapons development and support for Islamic terrorism, the United States has authorized the use of more special operations missions inside Iran, and preparations for larger scale military operations against Iran. The fact that this was allowed to leak indicates that it is, at present, a message to be delivered.
May 17, 2010: France has announced the freeing of an Iranian, convicted of murdering a former Iranian politician, on the orders of the current Iranian government. This was part of a deal that got a French citizen (arrested for trade purposes) released from Iranian prison. Western nations are warning their citizens to stay away from Iran, as they government there is becoming increasingly aggressive in the use of this technique to obtain the freedom of their spies and assassins imprisoned overseas.
May 13, 2010: Iranian and Iraqi border guards exchanged fire when the Iranians patrol mistook the Iraqi patrol as separatist Kurdish rebels, and opened fire. No one was hurt, as some vigorous shouting soon brought the gunfire to a halt.