Study: Tehran will likely overcome Western sanctions

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April 9, 2013 01:00

Washington Institute researcher says Iranian leaders appear "ready to live with pain" of economic measures against them.

2 minute read.



Iranian rial money exchange

Iran rial sanctions 390. (photo credit: REUTERS)

A new study indicates that current sanctions on Iran are unlikely to work, and that any chances for truly effective ones are impossible to implement in the current political environment.

The study – written by Patrick Clawson, the director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and titled “Is Iran Moving Beyond Oil?” – stated that Iran’s economy is doing well by adapting to the Western sanctions, putting less emphasis on its oil exports and diversifying them into other sectors. Therefore, it hints that, without any other measures, sanctions will not be enough to stop Iran as too many countries are unwilling to make them significantly stronger.

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Clawson told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that the economic effect of sanctions and their political impact are two different issues.

“The goal of the sanctions after all is not to inflict economic pain on Iran; the goal is to persuade Iranian leaders to make a nuclear compromise, while impeding their nuclear progress in the meanwhile, and persuading others not to go down Iran’s route,” he said.

In regards to the effect that an attack on Iran would have on its economy, Clawson said that the Iranian currency, the rial, would likely continue to lose value, just as it has every time tensions increased with the West.

In a sustained conflict, Iran would probably intensify the economic adaptation that it is already carrying out, he said.

The use of sanctions, Clawson pointed out, is just one tool the West can use to force Iran into a compromise, but by itself few believe it will be enough. He stated that his point was that “crippling the Iranian economy is tough to do, because Iran has many resources, especially human resources, it can use to overcome any sanctions,” adding that “Iran could survive without oil exports.”

The numbers back up Clawson’s argument. In 2012, non-oil exports covered 60 percent of its export bill, while in 2002 it covered only 24 percent.

The study stated that Iran “is in the midst of a non-oil export boom – it has the potential to remain a middle-income country even with no oil exports.”

It added that while the sanctions have focused on Iran’s oil income, the country has “decided to accept the immediate pain while promoting a smaller role for oil, undercutting the West’s strategy.”

Clawson also told the Post that those currently leading Iran are against giving into pressure even though this stance invites more pressure. This is bad news, he says, for those hoping for the success of the West’s efforts against Tehran since “Iranian leaders appear ready to live with the pain.”

Meanwhile, Western leaders decided on Monday that diplomacy should continue, despite the failure of recent talks with Iran, with one diplomat involved in the negotiations saying that “there is enough substance for these negotiations to continu


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