Middle East

Sanctions And The Iranian People

The U.S. and countries around the world have imposed additional sanctions measures to supplement those imposed by the U.N. Security Council.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2nd L) attends an unveiling ceremony of new nuclear projects, in Tehran, Iran, February 15, 2012.
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2nd L) attends an unveiling ceremony of new nuclear projects, in Tehran, Iran, February 15, 2012.

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The United States and countries around the world have imposed additional sanctions measures to supplement those imposed by the U.N. Security Council in response to Iran’s continued noncompliance with its international nuclear obligations.

The most recent measures focus on disrupting sources of funding to Iran’s nuclear program from oil revenues and the Central Bank of Iran.  These sanctions follow in the wake of the International Atomic Energy Agency Director General’s November report, which cited credible evidence of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.

The sanctions are consistent with the Obama Administration’s dual-track policy of applying pressure to encourage Iran’s leaders to engage with the West on Iran’s nuclear program and   demonstrate that Iran’s nuclear activities are solely for peaceful purposes.  The alternative to addressing the international community’s concerns about its nuclear program is for Iran to face increasing pressure and isolation.

In recent weeks, the effects of the sanctions on Iran’s economy have been visible:  the value of Iran’s currency has fallen and inflation is rising. Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have complained about the impact of sanctions on the Iranian economy.

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the sanctions imposed on Iran are aimed at Iranian officials, and not the people:

“We are trying, through all of our media platforms to the Iranian people, to make clear that this is not directed at them, that our own policies do allow continued trading in food stuffs and medicines and medical supplies.  But frankly, the bad choices that their government is making are chilling the international environment for any kind of trade with Iran.”

Among these bad choices, Ms. Nuland cited the government’s “lack of transparency” and “the fact that they continue to profess that they don’t have or want a nuclear weapons program but won’t demonstrate that to the world.

“We have no quarrel with the Iranian people,” she said:

“In fact, it is the Iranian people’s future and their hopes and aspirations to live in a freer, more democratic state that actually provides for them, rather than siphoning off vital recourses of the state into the nuclear program that we are seeking to help them achieve here with these policies.”

Iran’s isolation will end, said State Department Spokesperson Nuland, when the Iranian government “comes clean with the international community about its nuclear program and demonstrates that it doesn’t have an intent to build a weapon.”

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