This blog has been consistent from the outset in its belief that international sanctions are what got Iran back to the negotiating table. Without them, there would be none of the developments we are currently witnessing leading up to the upcoming UN General Assembly session.
Much coverage has been dedicated to the importance Hassan Rouhani attaches to relief from sanctions and their effect on the populace. Less concrete reporting has focused, however, on how sanctions have struck at the corridors of power.
One enlightening illustration: turns out that even the IRGC’s economic interests are feeling the sanctions bite. Indeed, Iranian websites reported last month that the IRGC-controlled, sanctioned Khatam al-Anbiya engineering firm sold its shares in another sanctioned company, the marine industrial firm Sadra, which is faltering under the weight of international pressure and growing debt (according to the Farsi Iran Green Voice ).
IRGC-controlled Sadra used to be a flourishing business, even maintaining a branch in Venezuela. Now it’s in shambles – less than a year after the company was sanctioned by the US, in 2012.
Former Foreign Minister Salehi (now head of IAEO for the second time), recently claimed that his repeated warnings about the harm he believed sanctions would cause Iran – particularly in the banking and oil sectors – fell on deaf ears within the regime. He once talked differently; at least now he’s speaking the truth.
Iran is fighting back, of course, as demonstrated by a recent European court decision overturning previously leveled economic measures. For the moment, at least, a drop in the bucket.
Apparently the international community got it right; Rouhani knows that sanctions relief is directly connected with nuclear compliance, but it sure doesn’t hurt to try empty diplomatic words first. Let’s hope the international community will get this one right too.