Fifty-seven Iranian economists signed an open letter in June criticizing the economic policies of the Iranian government. The letter, published in Iranian newspapers, says monetary and banking policies adopted by the government are fueling inflation and hurting the poor. The economists also stated the government's foreign policy is not constructive and is threatening Iran's financial and commercial relations with the rest of the world.
Food and housing costs in Iran have risen, unemployment has increased, and prices on the Tehran stock exchange have declined. The government is also reviewing plans to ration gasoline in this oil-rich country. In December and again in March, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment and abide by its international nuclear treaty obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The governments of the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K., France and Germany offered Iran a generous incentives package if Tehran agrees to come into compliance. Benefits would include assistance in the development of a peaceful nuclear energy program, as well as in other areas including medicine, agriculture and civil aviation. The Iranian government has so far spurned this offer.
In addition, the U.S. denied two Iranian banks access to the U.S. financial system. The banks were involved in financing Iran's terrorist activity and its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Many of the world's top financial institutions have followed suit, reducing the business they do with Iran or stopping it altogether. Gregory Schulte, U.S. Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, says that governments and private companies are recognizing that "this is not the time for more business as usual with Iran."
President George W. Bush says the Iranian people should not have to live under these conditions:
"Their government can do better for them. And threatening the world has caused there to be isolation. And these good folks could have leadership that enables them to have a better economy and a better way of life, an economy and a way of life that enriches their families, that gives them a better chance to succeed."
In the face of the Iranian government's determination to pursue nuclear weapons, President Bush says, it is up to other nations to show "there's. . . .a consequence to it, that there's a price that's paid for this kind of intransigence."