‘Unprecedented’ EU Sanctions on Iran a Farce

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The result? Pitifully minor annoyances to the Iranian economy and little evidence that it has slowed the mullahs’ drive to build a nuclear weapon. During the time that the sanctions have been in place, the Iranians have installed 5,000 working centrifuges at their main enrichment facility in Nantanz that is busy enriching hundreds of pounds of uranium, completed construction of the reactor at Bushehr and made it operational, constructed at least one and probably more smaller enrichment facilities such as the one built into a mountain outside of Qom, and, according to the nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, are rapidly developing the technical capability to marry a nuclear bomb to their missiles.

To be fair, there is some evidence that the last round of sanctions against Iran’s central bank have generated the kind of pain they were designed to cause. The only problem; it is ordinary Iranians who are feeling the pinch as inflation has soared 50% for some basic food items like meat and milk. The economy is a wreck — more a result of mismanagement by the government than the sanctions — and there is some indication that the oil sector of the economy is beset by supply problems as spare parts and new equipment are hard to come by.

But Ivan Eland, a senior fellow with the Independent Institute, writes in the Washington Times that sanctions rarely work:

The problem with all sanctions is that they erode over time as the target nation redirects its products to countries that aren’t participating in the sanctions or finds ways to trade illegally with entities in the sanctioning countries. With such market “reordering” and outright evasion, the target country is rarely starved of export revenues.

Specifically with regard to Iran, Eland notes that “despite the existing sanctions on Iran’s petroleum sector, the country exported some $71.6 billion worth of petroleum products in 2010, according to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).”  And the Iranians have said that 2011 was even better.

Noted above, the sanctions have had little effect on the ability of the Iranians to progress toward building a nuclear weapon, although there is some evidence that efforts to prevent the Iranians from upgrading their centrifuges, as well as continue their rapid development of ballistic missiles have achieved limited success. A recent UN report on the effectiveness of the international sanctions notes “sanctions are slowing Iran’s nuclear programme but not yet having an impact on the decision calculus of its leadership with respect to halting enrichment and heavy water-related activities.”

But it is far too little and it is becoming far too late. The chimera that the “decision calculus” of the regime factors in the suffering of ordinary people, or even the modernization of its aging oil sector is more of the same: the international community fooling itself into thinking that the Iranians can be deterred from possessing a nuclear weapon through the kind of sanctions that have been imposed thus far.

A total embargo of oil sales from Iran coupled with an attempt to interrupt its importation of gasoline would be more to the point as far as imposing sanctions with bite. But the world economy can ill afford to lose Iran’s 4 million bbl of oil a day without a serious shock to prices — a shock that the fragile economic recoveries in the West would be ill-prepared to manage. And while Iran used to import about a third of its refined gasoline, that has changed over the last 3 years, as rationing and a slowing economy have closed the gap between what Iran can refine in country and what it must get from outside sources.

In short, there is no magic combination of sanctions that can induce the Iranians to halt their enrichment activities. There never has been. As long as the current leadership is in power, Iran will continue its steady progress toward the inevitable. Even if the Iranians agree to sit down with the EU and US to negotiate, there is little the West can offer the Iranians that would change their minds. More likely, they would use the talks to buy time to create the capability of constructing a weapon in a matter of months — or weeks.

European Union leaders cannot really believe the additional sanctions they have imposed will act as a deterrence, or force the Iranians to the negotiating table, or do anything except make the creaky Iranian economy seize up with ordinary Iranians taking the brunt of the sanctions’ effects. It is more of the same from the international community — playing a myopic game of make-believe that by imposing sanctions on Iran, they are making a whit of difference in Tehran’s hegemonistic plans to dominate the region and wipe the state of Israel off the face of the Earth.

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  • crackerjack

    Mr Moran is missing the point here.

    This embargo is a message to the Iranians that the EU is ending its dependency on Iranian crude oil, The embargo comes with an inner EU agreement to assist members most hevily dependent on Iranian imports. By summer 2012, EU economies will be fully independent from Iranian crude.

    This embargo is also a message to nations still dealing in Iranian crude, that the destruction of Iran's oil output in case of armed conflict, is becoming a calculable risk to Western economies.

    A little less EU bashing reflex and a little more analysis please.


    A little bit off, but I adored a video on Trade Union thugs. I am sure it is worthy your Mighty attention.

  • Rick Moran

    "EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the purpose of the sanctions was "to put pressure on Iran to come back to the negotiating table".

    (William Hague): "It is absolutely right to do this when Iran is continuing to breach United Nations resolutions and refusing to come to meaningful negotiations on its nuclear programme," he added."

    Mr. Crackerjack misses the point. The goal of the sanctions is to force Iran back to the negotiating table.

    A little less spinning for the EU and a little more logic please.

    • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

      The readership misses the point that Rick Moran is a blogger with no foreign policy experience or expertise, writing a bunch of garbage from a house with wood panelling and his family wears Snuggies.

      • http://apollospaeks.blogtownhall.com/ ApolloSpeaks

        For Flipside's experience and expertise click his name and soak up the wisdom-if your ears can take it.

      • WilliamJamesWard

        Flippie, Flippie and you are from your kennel, behave……………William

      • ajnn

        Snuggies ? This is confusing. Why are 'snuggies' bad ?

  • crackerjack

    ….let's be logical

    The EU would not start a billion dollar gamble endagering its already fragile economies for the sole perspective of yet another round of endless chatter with Ahmedinejads envoys.

    This is a strategic decision concerning the continents future energy policy that will also have repercussions on the route future gas pipelines such as Nabucco may take.

    Severing vital economic ties of this nature is more than a diplomatic ploy. Europe is preparing for lager conflict.

  • James Saunders-Smith

    EU politicians are sensitive to their citizen’s desire to leave Iran well alone. Majority of Europeans, the media and academia are virulently anti-Israeli and see the spectre of an Iranian nuclear bomb as a good thing. They blame the war in Iran and Afghanistan, 9/11 and numerous Islamic terror attacks around the world squarely on US and the evil Jewish lobby that controls the world.

    Europeans do not believe that the Iranian bomb is meant for them or the US for that matter, only for the annihilation of Jews, so why interfere? Anyway they say, hasn’t Israel got one, or Pakistan or India? So why not Iran?

    Europe is now in the grips of exponentially rising muslim population and anti-Semitism. Here the destruction of this tiny Jewish state cannot come soon enough after which, it is hoped, eternal peace will descend upon humanity.

    European parliament takes these views on board and acts (or not) accordingly.

    • http://apollospaeks.blogtownhall.com/ ApolloSpeaks

      The militant mullahs have unlimited ambitions. Destroying Israel is a step to greater things. Peace descents on humanity when Islam is supereme.

      • http://apollospaeks.blogtownhall.com/ ApolloSpeaks


    • crackerjack

      Your europhobic disposition is leading your judgement astray.

      The USA, Israel and the EU are allies in this standoff. While Britisch and French warships accompany US carriers through Hormus and EU warships patrol the coasts of Syria and Lebanon, economic heavyweight Germany finances the embargo and provides Israel with second strike submarines.

      Defaming allies as enemys is playing into the hands of the Mullahs.

  • http://apollospaeks.blogtownhall.com/ ApolloSpeaks


    The IslamoNazi rulers of Iran are scared sh*tless of Obama losing the election in November and facing a hardline Republican administration next year. Hawkish anti-Iranian statements coming from Gingrich, Romney and Santorum calling for an all out "maximum" covert war to assassinate Iran's nuclear scientists and sabotage its nuclear plants seem to be forcing the mullahs to join the Obama reelection team-to do what they can to keep Obama in power short of giving up their nuclear weapons program.


  • http://apollospaeks.blogtownhall.com/ ApolloSpeaks

    That's what the letter was about supposedly written by Obama to Iran's Supreme Leader calling for direct talks as reported by Iranian officials. And Obama, it seems, is welcoming with open arms the mullahs' peace offensive, showing them good will by canceling military exercises with Israel and warning Netanyahu not to strike Iran. Subordinating national security to his reelection as Iran uses the ruse of negotiations to further its nuclear and regional ambitions Obama and his incoherent foreign policy will stay its disastrous course and make the world a more dangerous place for democracy and freedom. If US/Iran talks start up, as it looks like they will, they will drag on by design toward Election Day with little or no results-with Obama assuring the electorate that progress is being made to peacefully end Iran's nuclear program; and that a change in administrations could ruin everything and may result in war with those Bush/Cheney warmongering Republicans.

    Click my name to read more.

  • BLJ

    This whole thing is like the movie Groundhog Day. The Iranians are hell bent on getting nukes. Their words and actions say so.

    They are banking on the rest of the world to twiddle their thumbs. The EU talks of sanctions while their continent is being overrun by Muslims. The Iranians only understand one thing and that is force.

    They were crapping their drawers when the U.S. went into Iraq because they thought they were next. Now that we have a woman in the WH they are no longer worried.

  • mrbean

    Now, now let's not het upset, the EU has given them the ultimate punishment by EU standards. The Iranians are now on triple double probation just like detla-delta-delta in "Animal House".

  • Nakba1948

    I suppose you bloodthirsty chickenhawks would rather we simply nuke Tehran tomorrow and get it over with. I would say to let Israel do its own dirty work, but assuming it does, it will inevitably trigger the next world war. Not that this matters to you Zionazis; you'd step on your own mothers in the name of a "Greater Israel." Sad really.

    • BLJ

      Hey Einstein,

      Israel does not want the U.S. to fight it's battles. All it wants is the U.S. not condemn it should they decide to take Iran's nuke operation down. With an Israel hater like Obama in the WH they are not too confident about that happening.

      Those Iranian scumbags have quite a bit of American blood on their hands. The U.S. has had plenty of chances to get some payback militarily against them. We have shown too much restraint and it has just embolden the s.o.b's.

      Take your "bloodthirsty chickenhawks" comment and stick where the sun don't shine.

  • Ghostwriter

    Well,Nakba1948,I'd be the first to cheer if the monstrous mullahs in Tehran were overthrown. They're vicious monsters and you're a disgusting human being for siding with them.

  • maria

    Nuclear Iran is threat to not only Western civilization but to sunnits muslim countiries (Saudi Arabia…). But Muslims are cowards and used to use others labor and success, etc). All the world dream that tiny and courageous Israel will make that risky and difficult work for them and then …they will blame Israel if it liberate them from madness of ayatolls. By the way historically Jews were the first victims but very soon all others had the same destiny. Stupid, mean, cynical world which don't want to remember history lessons. The lest one lesson was Munich massacre of Israel's sportsmen in Olimpiada. World kept silllence. And Muslim decided that they have a green light. Then happened 09/11 in US, terracts in London, Paris, Bally (indonasia) and even in Muslims countries (Turkey, …). Wake up people. Stop our country islamization voting for Republicans.