Ahmadinejad at NPT 311.
(photo credit: AP)
By all objective standards, Iran this week is facing some version of a moment of
Responding to the impending imposition of beefed-up UN economic
sanctions, French oil company Total announced publicly that it was suspending
oil shipments to Iran, and the Spanish oil giant Repsol withdrew from a contract
to develop part of a large Iranian oil field. Even Iran’s neighbor, the United
Arab Emirates, announced a series of moves to comply with the strengthened
But analysts disagree over the import of the sanctions,
and the degree to which the new approach will influence the Iranian
“These new sanctions will target Iran’s financial sector,
Iran’s ability to trade, Iran’s ability to communicate with the external world
and travel, which begins to target the energy sector, and squeeze a number of
companies connected to the Revolutionary Guard,” Dr. Emanuele Ottolenghi, a
senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and author of
Under a Mushroom Cloud – Europe, Iran and the Bomb, told The Media
“All of these things combined will have a significant effect,”
Ottolenghi went on.
“Obviously, it could have been much tougher, but
there are some aspects of the resolution which, if implemented honestly,
conscientiously and resolutely can do a great deal of damage at a time when the
Iranian economy is particularly fragile due to the vast incompetence of the
“And the internal political situation makes the
government more vulnerable,” he continued.
“If you look at sanctions as a
way to slow down and damage the efforts of the regime, then these efforts are
He added, “Those who think that sanctions will solve the
problem are wrong: Sanctions are not going to convince [Iranian] President
[Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad or the Supreme Leader [Ali] Khamenei to reconsider their
approach to nuclear power, nor are sanctions going to bring down the
However, Ottolenghi said, “if properly implemented, sanctions
can achieve two goals: first, to reduce the ability of Iran to procure and
acquire sensitive technology abroad, which will significantly slow down the
Iranian race to nuclear weapons. The second value of the sanctions is that they
will immensely raise costs for Iran to engage in all of its illicit activities,
wreaking havoc into the system by, for example, by sowing discontent among those
within the regime who are in it just for the profit.”
But Dr. Seyed
Muhammad Marandi, a professor at the University of Teheran, argued that the
sanctions would fail in their stated goals.
“I don’t think that sanctions
will have a major effect on Iran, especially since the Iranians had been
preparing for the sanctions for quite a while now,” he told The Media Line.
“Iran is trading less and less with Europe and North America, and has been
finding alternative partners in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
diversifying its trade, Iran has also become more independent – for
its consumption of oil, with heavy investment in oil refineries. So Iran
more independent than it was a few years ago,” Marandi said.
be a minor effect,” he continued.
“For example hospitals will have
difficulty importing equipment from Europe. But at the end of the day,
going to have a major effect on the Iranian economy, and the irony is
more sanctions that the West places on Iran, the greater the gap between
and the less leverage Western countries have over Iran.”
Khonsari, a former Iranian diplomat and senior research consultant at
for Arab and Iranian Studies, argued that the sanctions would delay, but
solve, the principal conflict between Iran and the West.
will obviously have some kind of an effect on the Iranian economy by
conditions worse for all Iranians,” he told The Media Line.