National Press Club

China adamant against nukes for Iran, shutdown of Straits, Consultant Fenning Says

February 7, 2012 | By Robert Webb |

Richard Fenning, chief executive officer of a consultancy that helps companies manage risks in hostile environments, said at a February 7 Newsmaker that Israel’s threat to attack Iran due to its nuclear development efforts and Iran’s serious warning to block the Straits of Hormuz is unlikely as it would have severe repercussions.

“There is tension in Israel on how to behave,'' Fenning said at the National Press Club. ``It has the ability to threaten to attack." He added "the whole region is jittery," because one mistake could cause the whole situation to escalate.

China, the largest importer of Iranian oil, doesn’t want Iran to shut down the Straits, said Fenning, of London-based Control Risks, as it would possibly stop China from receiving its oil.

Fenning also warned of the uncertainties with major leadership changes coming this year in China, Iran and the Arab world, in countries such as Libya and Egypt.

When asked about the 19 Americans facing criminal charges in Egypt, he said a way will be found for their release most likely through negotiation. One of the 19, Sam LaHood, is the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

He said that although it vetoed tougher Security Council sanctions on Syria, China would prefer that the Assad region would step down. China and Russia, are seeking efforts to help find an acceptable exit for Assad, Fenning said, as there is the fear that “the Syrian violence will spill over and destabilize other countries in the region," he said.

Libya, with the right leadership, "could become the Norway of the Middle East" as one of the regions richest countries, Fenning said. Libya has three percent of the world's oil reserves, he said. Oil production has resumed and nearly reached pre-revolution levels. Libya would gain a great benefit if it could diversify like Norway, using green energy and selling its oil to other countries, Fenning said.

Asked about Yemen, he responded it "will continue to stumble along as a breeding ground for terrorism and on the verge of becoming a failed state."