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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Are there effective sanctions against Iran?

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone and Chag Urim Sameyach, a frelichen (happy) Chanuka.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal Danielle Pletka tries to come up with effective sanctions against Iran.
Are there other sanctions that could cause a wholesale shift—even a tactical one—in the Iranian regime's thinking about its options? Achieving international consensus on some kinds of draconian measures may well be impossible.

But that may not be necessary, if the U.S. is willing to throw its full might behind a truly tough sanctions regime. And if, as diplomats suggest privately, there is now significant enthusiasm in Britain and France for an ad hoc coalition pressing forward with new sanctions, even more is possible. This week, the notoriously timid government of Austria suggested that absent international consensus on sanctions, the European Union would move ahead unilaterally—something the U.K has already done in sanctioning Iranian banks—ahead of both the United Nations and the EU.

Among possible new options: a complete travel ban for all regime officials (a similar ban was in place on Saddam Hussein's Iraq), a ban on all correspondent relationships with Iranian banks (which facilitate letters of credit and foreign financing of Iranian business and trade), and an end to all export financing (which remains in the billions of dollars per annum to this day). Also: denial of landing rights to Iran Air (in addition to IranAir Cargo, something already under consideration), and denial of access to capital markets for Iran's most important investors and commercial partners.

Some disapprove of diplomatic interference in business and finance. Yet it is undeniable that financial measures like the 2007 crackdown on North Korean account holder Banco Delta Asia have been extremely effective.

The U.S. has not begun to exercise its leverage in that area. Consider that in the last two years, Brazil's Petrobras, China's Sinopec, Italy's Eni, Japan's Mitsui Petrochemical and Norway's Statoil have all reportedly made deals worth more than $10 million each in Iran's energy sector. All are listed on the New York Stock Exchange (except for Mitsui's parent, which is on the Nasdaq). Should Iran's economic enablers be listed on American exchanges?

Sanctions such as these will hit hardest at the regime, and affect ordinary Iranians only incidentally. They will also deepen the divide between the public and the military-religious dictatorship, targeting the means of regime enrichment that comes all too often at the expense of the Iranian public.
Well, maybe. But it's highly doubtful whether anything short of a full military and naval blockade would be sufficient to bring Iran to its knees. It's either that or a military strike.


At 2:31 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

No. There are no effective sanctions against Iran. The Western democracies won't even resort to the most powerful symbolic sanction of all, to stand with the people of Iran against their repressive regime. As Caroline Glick wrote on the eve of this weekend, when the history of our times is finally written, it will be remembered as an Era Of Madness.


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