The UN report also states that Iran has continued to advance its missile and nuclear capabilities by bypassing UN-imposed sanctions “across all areas, in particular the use of front companies, concealment methods in shipping, and financial transactions.”
For example, Iran has been trying to circumvent sanctions by purchasing foreign banks and money-exchange bureaus around the world. Using these fronts, the Iranians launder money through intermediary banks in order to purchase blacklisted equipment.
To transfer that equipment, Iran then uses its fleet of cargo freighters, which are controlled by the state-owned IRISL shipping company. The UN report revealed that between 2008 and mid-2010, 76 out of 123 of these vessels was repainted and had their Farsi names replaced with English ones.
Of course, the ultimate goal of the sanctions is to force the Iranians to abandon their quest for nuclear weapons. Yet the Iranians remain undeterred from attaining that objective as recent events attest.
While nuclear-weapons material needs a uranium enrichment level of 90 percent, Iran has now claimed to hold 110 pounds of 20-percent enriched uranium. The news led Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association in Washington, to say Iran’s announcement “puts the world on notice” about its commitment to continuing its enrichment effort.
This revelation had been preceded days earlier by the declaration by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran “maintains its uranium enrichment and heavy water-related activities…and continues to test missiles and engage in prohibited procurement.” It was a statement that led the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization to call the IAEA’s accusations a pack of “lies,”
Still, this verbal volley did not dissuade Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi from indicating Iran’s willingness to participate in nuclear talks, “If they (West) are ready (for talks), we are ready.”
Salehi’s willingness to engage in continued talks may be rooted in the recent shifting of some Westerners in their perceptions over Iran’s nuclear program. In a recently released joint memo, a group of former European ambassadors stated that Iran’s nuclear activities are consistent with international law.
They noted that “nothing in international law or in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty forbids the enrichment of uranium” and that “the IAEA has never uncovered in Iran any attempted diversion of nuclear material to military use”
Of course, that view may very well constitute a minority opinion among Western leaders. However, it is fairly safe to say that a growing majority have come to realize the limited effect the continued wave of sanctions has had on Iran.
A small case in point is the recent announcement by the head of Iran’s Organization for Investment and Economic and Technical Assistance that 2010 saw the Islamic Republic reach its highest rate of direct foreign investment, breaking the previous record from 2009.
So, despite a fourth round of UN-imposed economic sanctions in June 2010 — which also included US and European Union unilateral sanctions against the energy and banking sectors of the Islamic Republic – Iran has not been moved from pursuing its deadly agenda.
Now, the US is trying the same tactic yet again to deter Iran’s rulers from torturing, jailing and killing their citizens. Unfortunately for those dissident Iranians, if past evidence of this approach is any indicator, their suffering will only continue.
Frank Crimi is a writer living in San Diego, California. You can read more of Frank’s work at his blog, www.politicallyunbalanced.com.