With a brief lull in nuclear talks, the media discourse has predictably swung back to the question of whether international sanctions are achieving their stated purpose. While we harbor suspicions about the repeated media appearance of this issue, we’re game for a relook.
First off: for those who believe negotiations are the key to solving the crisis, the Iranians returned to the negotiating table only because of the sanctions. Fact: their top demand in talks both in the recent and distant past has consistently been removal of the sanctions, without which they wouldn’t be talking at all.
Since this fact is undeniable – expressly because the Iranians themselves confirm it regularly, and quite publicly – the next rung on the ladder for those who tend to give Tehran the benefit of the doubt is to dispute whether leveling sanctions are at all worth it since the nuclear program continues anyway (they’ve been pushing this line the past few days, but we’ve decided to refrain from promoting them further).
Well, if sanctions are not causing the Iranians to consider slowing down those parts of the program we can see, then why did they convert 20% enrichment into oxide power as documented by the IAEA? Why are they now indicating a tactical readiness to suspend all such visible enrichment for a limited period of time? (The question of what can be seen and what cannot is the subject of a new ISIS report we recommend reading.)
These facts, and more, seem to be of no interest to some very prominent influentials who together form a critical mass of reportage and punditry. For the sake of simplicity, let’s just call them the Rozen -Slavin-Walt axis – now apparently joined, judging by relevant Twitter exchanges, by CSM’s Scott Peterson – all of whom for some reason are more than happy to promote the reports and proclamations of NIAC, the DC-based pro-Iran lobby to which we’ve referred in the past more than once.
The only plausible explanation for this herd mentality on the part of such intelligent people is they are blinded by their ideological opposition to the use of coercive diplomacy against Tehran.
Of course, they are not wrong when they claim that Iran’s nuclear program moves forward. This is documented quarterly by the IAEA. But perhaps – just perhaps – there are other reasons, besides sanctions, that are facilitating this development? A few possibilities, just for argument’s sake: the historically faulty implementation of coercive diplomacy; the inherent weaknesses of consensus diplomacy (ie P5+1); departure from the Security Council route; and last – but certainly not least – the extremely late introduction of international sanctions: four years after Tehran’s illicit nuclear activities were exposed!
Opponents of sanctions – a group which certainly does not include the US Congress– tend to vacillate between their contention that sanctions are not working, sanctions are actually accelerating the program, and sanctions are harming Iranians. We’ve already dealt here with the first two, so we’ll end with a comment about the last one – from a member of the Majlis:
Mehrdad Lahuti, a member of the Majlis Development Committee, said that “The government is well aware of its weak economic performance, though it tries to ascribe that weakness to sanctions.”
Strange, we didn’t see this in any of the anti-sanctions crowd Twitter accounts. Wonder why…
PS – our best wishes to readers in the Jewish world on the occasion of the Passover holiday.