Iran faces tougher sanctions from the EU
Published: Friday, October 19, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 19, 2012 17:10
Iran faces new sanctions targeting its economy from the 27 member countries of the European Union.
The sanctions, imposed last Monday, intend to place restrictions on Iran’s access to international banking networks, ban its ability to export natural gas to the European Union (EU) and take away crucial EU imports to the nation such as metals, software and materials used for ship-building.
According to the Associated Press, the EU’s foreign policy ministers said that Iran has been “acting in flagrant violation of its international obligation” and uncooperative with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The IAEA insists that Iran needs to do more to prove that its nuclear program is peaceful.
“There is a lingering sense that Iran is not complying with the Security Council or the IAEA,” said Erik Tillman, a political science professor at DePaul. “Leading countries want to put pressure on Iran to do so.”
The justification for sanctions is that immense pressure will leave the nation with no other choice but to comply with the wishes of the international community. The sanctions the EU is enacting have already had an effect on the Iranian citizens. According to the Associated Press, a shop owner in downtown Tehran said that, “immediately following the sanctions, the price of his goods went up 70 percent.”
The value of the Iranian currency will plummet, and the price of goods will increase for other businesses as well. Officials believe these consequences will influence citizens to act out against the Iranian regime and force it to comply, while slowing the nation’s progress in nuclear development at the same time.
Sanctions are foreign policy tools used as a way for a country to take a hardline approach against another nation without military intervention.
The effectiveness of sanctions is debatable and some view them as an inevitable precursor to war.
International studies professor Kaveh Ehsani said that the sanctions implemented against Iran are similar to those enacted in 1990 against Iraq. The United States’ goal was to contain Saddam Hussein’s ability to construct weapons of mass destruction.
The most controversial issue was that the death rate of infants and children rose dramatically over the time that the sanctions were imposed.
“The claim was that sanctions would weaken the regime [due to] pressure by civilians,” said Ehsani. “But it actually led to the death of Iraqi civilians and strengthened the mafia nature of the Hussein regime. Instead of being angry at the regime, their anger was against the United States.
“My fear is that sanctions will impoverish ordinary Iranians, middle-class Iranians who have shown a desire for a democratic government since 2009,” said Ehsani.
The U.S. has had sanctions against Iran since the hostage crisis in 1979 and the sanctions have become harsher over the years.
The most recent moves were in 2010 and 2011 when, due to increased fear of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Congress passed “the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act” that limited Iranian imports of certain foodstuffs and carpets.
The following year, the government imposed tighter restrictions on U.S. companies whose business aided Iran’s chemical and oil industry.
The United Nation has implemented sanctions on Iran since 2006. Including, a ban on the exportation or acquirement of weapons, as well as an assets freeze and travel ban on various individuals and groups.
The EU has had little history in sanctioning Iran. Besides an oil embargo implemented this past January, the only other restrictions it placed were in 2010 on “equipment which might be used for internal repression,” according to CNN.
Since the EU is Iran’s largest trading partner, according to Tillman, their sanctions add a great amount of harshness and pain to previously imposed sanctions.
“It certainly helps for the United States to make its case in having the EU on board,” said Tillman. “It helps the effectiveness of the sanctions and the perception of them as well.”
However not every nation is on board. Last week, both China and Russia criticized the sanctions and urged talks to take place. Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes and that the nation has no desire to build a nuclear bomb.
Additionally, Iran feels that as a member of the IAEA and a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has the right to enrich uranium for the purpose of fuel for civilian use with obliging to very strict inspections.
“The Iranian nation will not succumb to bullying, invasion and the violation of its rights,” said Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“While some action with regard to Iran must be taken,” said Sean Witry, a junior international studies major. “The European Union and the International Community must be careful not to make Iran feel further marginalized.”