The Impact of Sanctions on Iran: An Act of 'Inhuman' Aggression?
October 18, 2012 Agence France-Presse / Hindustani Times & Inside Story / Al Jazeera
Are tougher sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme an effective way to open diplomatic channels? Iranian officials have declared: "Unilateral European and US sanctions against Iran are irrational, illegal and inhumane, and are against the Iranian nation." Furthermore, the sanctions are in violation of international law as they target a country's general population.
Iran Calls New EU Sanctions 'Inhuman' Agence France-Presse / Hindustani Times
TEHRAN (October 17, 2012) -- Iran said Tuesday the latest round of EU economic sanctions imposed over the country's disputed nuclear programme are "inhumane" as they target its general population. "Unilateral European and US sanctions against Iran are irrational, illegal and inhumane, and are against the Iranian nation," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.
Speaking on state television, Mehmanparast accused the West of using the nuclear issue as a pretext to apply pressure on Tehran for "insisting on its own independence. These sanctions are adopted under the pretext of Iran's peaceful nuclear activities... but even if our nuclear issue is resolved, these countries will certainly use other excuses to put pressure on us."
The European Union on Monday toughened sanctions against Iran, targeting its dealings with Iran's banks, shipping and gas imports and banning trade in metals.
"This is a sign of our resolve," said British foreign secretary William Hague. "That we will step up the pressure, we will intensify the pressure and we will continue to do so over the coming months unless negotiations succeed."
The measures add to a series of sanctions from Europe, the US and the UN Security Council designed to pressure Iran to curb its nuclear programme.
"Many believe if it were not for the nuclear programme, the West would have picked up something else in order to put pressure on Iran."
-- Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor of political science at Tehran University
"The reality is that most sanctions end up having perverse effects .... European Union sanctions certainly affect 27 member states and companies that are trading, but there's a much bigger world out there .... I don't think they will have the effects that politicians are looking for."
-- Peter Middlebrook, the CEO of Geopolicity
(October 17, 2012) -- The European Union (EU) is ramping up pressure on Iran -- imposing tough new sanctions on the country's banking, shipping and energy sectors. These sanctions are the toughest measures taken by the EU so far.
It has drawn up a list of more than 30 Iranian firms that are being targeted, taking in two top ministries, a host of state-run oil and gas companies, and several banks, including the Central Bank of Iran. It also specifies Majid Namjoo, Iran's minister of energy.
The West has long accused Tehran of developing nuclear weapons, but Iran insists its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes and denies it is trying to develop an atomic bomb. The West says sanctions are the main way to pressure Iran and forestall military conflict.
Iran has been the target of sanctions for more than two decades now, but it continues to remain defiant, and publicly insists the restrictions are not harming the economy. But the latest EU measures are likely to put more pressure on Iran's faltering economy. And the hard facts suggest Iran is already feeling the pinch of Western sanctions.
Iran's oil exports have dropped by about one million barrels a day in the past 12 months, which is a 60 per cent drop in revenue. Inflation is running somewhere between 20 and 25 per cent and it is hitting Iran's currency hard. The rial has lost 40 per cent of its value against the dollar in recent weeks.
What impact is the latest round of sanctions likely to have? And are sanctions a legitimate means of bringing about diplomacy?
Inside Story, with presenter Mike Hanna, discusses with guests: Sadegh Zibakalam, a professor of political science at Tehran University and a specialist on Iran's foreign policy; Peter Middlebrook, the CEO of Geopolicity, an advisory consulting firm specialising in political and economic intelligence, and a former economic adviser to the UK, EU and World Bank; and Hillary Mann Leverett, the CEO of Strategic Energy and Global Analysis, a political risk consultancy, and a former US diplomat and official at both the White House and the state department.
"The second round [of sanctions] is intended to increase hardship for ordinary Iranians. That's the intent of sanctions ... it's to impose extreme hardship on ordinary people with the idea that they will then rise up and overthrow their government and get rid of a system that Washington doesn't like.
They will increase hardship for ordinary Iranians, they will increase transaction cost, they will make doing business harder, but the reality is what we have seen come back from Iran, the response from the Islamic Republic of Iran has been, yes, hardship for people, but also an increased ability to rely on indigenous production, indigenous capacity.
When we first started imposing sanctions on Iran after the revolution in 1979 Iran was barely able to produce a bullet for its military."
-- Hillary Mann Leverett, the CEO of Strategic Energy and Global Analysis
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