Are UN Sanctions a gift to Iran’s regime?

(ria novosti) The UN Security Council’s approval of a fourth round of sanctions against Iran on June 9 has led to more not fewer questions about Tehran’ s nuclear program. There would have been fewer
doubts about the efficacy of the resolution had it been adopted unanimously. There would have been even fewer had the sanctions been as invasive as a scalpel. If something has to be cut off, better to do it in one swift motion. Watered-down sanctions and other long, drawn-out
punishments usually produce the opposite of the intended effect. U.S. President Barack Obama has said that one of the main goals of the new
sanctions is to show Tehran that it risks “complete international isolation.” On the other hand, if Iran halts its nuclear program and agrees to serious talks, it will be rewarded — the old carrot-and-stick tactic. Twelve out of the fifteen members of the UN Security Council (including all the
permanent members with veto power) voted for the sanctions. Turkey and Brazil voted against
them, while Lebanon abstained. Turkey and
Lebanon can be accused of merely showing solidarity with a fellow Muslim nation, but the
same cannot be said for Brazil. Many non-aligned
and developing UN member countries are looking up to Brazil for its unshakeable geopolitical equilibrium. Brazil and Turkey were offended that the P5+1 group (the five permanent members of
the Security Council and Germany) refused to take a serious look at the deal they struck with Iran on May 17. Under the terms of this agreement, Iran agreed to send 1.2 tons of low-enriched uranium to Turkey in exchange for 120 kg of nuclear fuel
over the course of a year. This amounted to half of Iran’s uranium stockpile – a clear sign of progress.
Earlier Tehran demanded that all exchanges take place exclusively on its territory. The Western
countries have expressed willingness to reconsider this deal, but after the fresh round of sanctions, Tehran is unlikely to go for this. Most likely, Iran will break off talks with the P5+1. Immediately
after the resolution passed, Brazilian President Lula da Silva announced that the new sanctions weaken the position of the Security Council. He called the resolution a Pyrrhic victory and called
for reform of the Security Council and the UN in general. This idea enjoys widespread support outside of the five permanent members of the Security Council. This is far from a united front,
and Iran’s “compete isolation” does not appear to be on the horizon. It would be naive to think that
Tehran will not use this move to its advantage,
and that it will ultimately settle down and change its ways. The purpose of all this is to get Iran to change its ways. But what will achieve this – sanctions or negotiations? Sanctions are always
double-edged sword. If they are poorly executed, imposed at the wrong time, or contain a hidden agenda they can end up helping those they’re meant to hurt (Ahmadinejad’s regime, in this case)
and hurt those they should help (the Iranian
people). Iran’s relations with the West have always been troubled. Who’s to blame is not important now. What’s important is that any new sanctions will allow Iran to continue claiming that it faces
encirclement by hostile powers. Ahmadinejad can use this argument to justify anything, from
pursuing nuclear weapons and suppressing the opposition movement to austerity measures and other sacrifices. Tehran has always presented sanctions as the West’s attempt to destroy the Islamic republic and a plot against Islam itself. It
would be wrong to think that the sanctions will not affect the Iranian people. Russia and China agreed to sanctions on the condition they not
affect trade and the energy sector. The sanctions primarily target the Revolutionary Guards (a ban on bank transactions, financing, a boycott of the RG-controlled companies and financial institutions). But the Revolutionary Guards have long since moved on from their role as the republic’s secret police. They are now a major corporation. They control or secretly own trade, shipping, financial, industrial, and oil and gas companies. All told, they control approximately 80
% of Iran’s oil production and up to 50 % of the country’s entire economy. But this is not the only reason it would be strange to assume that the sanctions will have no effect on the energy sector.
All of Iran’s nuclear programs are funded by oil exports (the bulk of which are controlled by the Guards). It turns out that imposing sanctions on the Guards is the same as imposing sanctions on Iran’s entire economy. But not targeting Iran’s energy sector means not targeting Iran’s nuclear
programs, which is absurd. So what will be the effect of the Security Council resolution? It will not lead to talks with Tehran on its nuclear programs. It will likely disrupt these talks. It will not help the opposition movement in Iran, which, by the way, defends Iran’s right to pursue civilian nuclear programs and research. The sanctions will only further weaken Iran’s already terrible economy. This will affect the living standards of
the Iranian people. Even according to official
estimates, out of the 73 million Iranians, 10 million live in abject poverty and another 30
million in relative poverty. How long will this resolution last? Six months? A year? What will come next – a new resolution, an ultimatum or a military strike? The resolution raises more questions than it answers. Russia’s support for the sanctions proposed by the U.S. won’t curry any
favor with Iran. However, it will not affect Russia’s cooperation with Iran in the nuclear power
industry, and Russia will be able to sell missile
defense systems to Iran under the agreement
reached prior to the sanctions. The sanctions only ban the sale of heavy offensive weapons. Strange
though it may seem, these sanctions may provide an impetus for the resolution of another non-proliferation issue. Arab countries, India, Pakistan, Turkey and Brazil have long insisted on fair play when it comes to non-proliferation, and they have demanded that the United States urge Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and
make public its own nuclear program. It will be very difficult for Washington to resist this demand
after getting its new round of sanctions.



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