By Ali Omidi, Assistant Professor of International Relations, University of Isfahan-Iran (Source: Iran Review)
The United States House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Relations passed a bill on May 22, 2013, which has paved the way for the US President Barak Obama to enforce new sanctions against all companies conducting transactions with Iran regardless of the type of their transactions and the size of those companies. The bill was also meant to ratchet up the punishments that have been already considered for the violation of the existing sanctions. The main goal of the new bill, which should be passed on the floor of the House of Representatives as well as by the US Senate before it can be signed into law by Barak Obama, is further reduction of Iran’s crude oil sales and enforcing more limitations for transactions with Iran’s economic and private sectors. On the other hand, the US Senate passed a nonbinding resolution on the same day which put renewed emphasis on the US support for a possible Israeli attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The resolution was passed through 99 ayes with no opposition. The text of the resolution has noted that the United States is committed to security and survival of Israel and considers it part of its “vital interests.” In the aforesaid resolution, the United States has also voiced its full support for Israel’s legitimate right to defend its population against any form of foreign attack, which analysts saw as an allusion to a possible preemptive strike by Israel against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The resolution has also noted that if Israel needed to resort to military force in order to defend its security and population, the United States would provide Tel Aviv with diplomatic, military and economic assistance. Before that, a group of the American senators, both Democrats and Republicans, had asked for a general freeze on Iran’s overseas foreign exchange reserves. The American lawmakers argued that such a measure will curtail Iran’s access to about USD 100 billion of its foreign exchange reserves in banks and financial institutions located out of the country. The United States had already approved a law on February 6, 2013, to stop Iran’s crude oil and gas exports in return for gold. The Islamic Republic was accepting gold as a preferred method of payment in return for the gas it exported to Turkey and some other countries. However, the new sanctions have made it difficult for Iran to receive gold in return for energy exports to Turkey and other countries, as a result of which Iran should only barter its crude oil and gas in return for foodstuff, medicines, and industrial products.
In economic terms, US sanctions against Iran have faced the Iranian nation with high inflation, foreign exchange crisis and the shortage of certain essential commodities. Even worse, the sanctions have led to scarcity of such vital medicines as anesthetics, and medicines used to treat special rare diseases, or have greatly increased their price. Of course, the Western countries have been trying to appease the world’s public opinion by alleging that their sanctions against Iran do not cover medicines. In practice, however, financial sanctions and preventing Iran from using the services of Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) have caused great difficulties for Iran’s financial institutions and made it increasingly difficult and costly for Iranians to purchase any commodity from abroad. Even if major pharmaceutical companies in the United States and European countries were able to obtain necessary permits from the US Treasury for trade with Iran, the intermediate banks would not accept to conduct transactions with Iran out of fear of heavy punishments and collateral costs they may have to suffer as a consequence of doing business with Iran.
In political terms, the sanctions have been also disastrous. Less than a month to the forthcoming 11th presidential election in Iran, imposing new sanctions will send the signal to both the Iranian nation and the next president that the main goal of sanctions is not to bring about suitable grounds for a deal between Iran and the West over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear issue through diplomatic means. The main goal, however, is to further exacerbate the economic situation in Iran in the hope that it would finally lead to a social explosion and the overthrow of the Islamic establishment. The real result of this mentality is that imposition of new sanctions will not only fail to make Iran change its mind about pursuing its nuclear energy program through legal and peaceful channels, but will also obliterate any chance for building confidence and reaching a compromise with the West by the coming president. As a result of that situation, the current standoff over Iran’s nuclear energy program may continue indefinitely. Unfortunately, past experiences have proven that there is no limit to the arrogance of the Western states. Presuming that the sanctions are sure to produce a powerful economic effect on Iran, Western diplomats maintain that new sanctions will finally bring Iran to its knees, making it to implore to the Uncle Sam. In this way, they believe, the future president of Iran will have to give in to their demands. The ultimate outcome of such behaviors will be, in fact, unavoidable deadlock in the nuclear negotiations before the next Iranian president comes to office, as a result of which finding a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear issue would be well-nigh impossible.
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