Iran’s agreement with the IAEA for an investigation of its nuclear program has some hoping that US and EU sanctions are working.The six nations starting talks today in Baghdad certainly hope so.
But in an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, London Middle East Institute director Hassan Hakimian argues that they have not been particularly effective:
- Iran has been sanctioned before, and was expecting these. It is better prepared than people realise.
- Oil is important to Iran, but it is not everything. It is “large regional economy with a relatively diversified structure”.
- Other nations (North Korea, Cuba) have dealt with harsher sanctions for larger periods.
- Iran has options for its oil, it can enter barter arrangements, sell at a discount, or conduct transactions in other currencies, as it has in India.
- The sanctions have worsened problems in the Iranian economy, including inflation/high staple prices and unemployment. However, these problems primarily affect ordinary Iranians. The impact on the ruling elite is muted.
- Iran’s oil revenues have allowed it to build currency reserves of at least $80 billion. They aren’t in danger of being unable to import essential goods in the near term.
Hopefully the talks will succeed. There have been promising signs, but Iran may be capable of surviving sanctions for some time to come.
Read the full interview at cfr.org
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