Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at UN 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN – Unprecedented EU punitive measures barring the import of Iranian crude
oil, and slowly turning the financial screws on the Central Bank of Iran, may
have three different outcomes.
First, the EU sanctions, until now, have
produced a positive result in raising European unity toward Iran’s failure to
adhere to six UN Security Council resolutions demanding that it stop work on its
illicit uranium enrichment program.
EU bans Iranian oil, Tehran responds with threats
Against the background of a creeping
economic Euro meltdown, and the dependency of Greece, Spain and Italy on Iranian
crude, the new EU oil sanctions represent an audacious move that might, just
might, reverse Iran’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons.
According to a
report Monday on the news website Now Lebanon, “The Iranian currency, the rial,
tumbled Monday in black market trading to a new record low against the dollar,
news agencies said, as the EU moved to impose an oil embargo and fresh sanctions
Economic pain is a factor in the Iranian nuclear calculation.
In fact, while speaking to the German news outlet Tagesschau.de from Tehran,
political science Prof. Zibakaram seemed to articulate the anxiety of Iran’s clerical regime.
said that by blocking revenue in the oil sector you aim to “destroy the
existence of the Islamic regime” and declare war on Iran.
It remains an
open question whether the sanctions will topple the regime and end Iran’s
pursuit of an atomic weapon.
Some experts believe June is a benchmark
date to ascertain if Tehran is prepared to make serious concessions. The EU
seeks adherence to the UN resolutions and does not have a policy of regime
The second, less positive result of EU sanctions is they are
The EU chief diplomats agreed that EU countries with ongoing
agreements to purchase oil and gas products can maintain those contracts until
July 1. A measured imposition of oil sanctions can allow Iran to market its
petroleum elsewhere. The lucrative Chinese and Indian markets have not cut ties
with Iran’s energy sector.
The EU decision to place restrictions on the
Central Bank of Iran fall short of the US and British measures to sever all ties
with Iran’s major bank. It is unclear what the restrictions are at this stage
because the EU has not published the full text outlining its
According to a Dow Jones Newswire report on Sunday, the EU and
the UK lobbied the US to insulate the “Iranian national oil company Naftiran
Intertrade Co.’s 10 percent stake in the Shah Deniz II natural gas project” from
The British energy giant BP and other European countries are
developing oil in Azerbaijan at the Shah Deniz II enterprise.
possible outcome is that the sanctions prove ineffective. The nuclear weapons
program might be so integral to the regime’s existence in Tehran that the ruling
political class is willing to absorb a North Korea-style economic meltdown in
exchange for nuclear weapons.
In that case, the EU, as well as the US,
would have to analyze what their next step would be.