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The Right Path For Iran

Last winter, Iranians shivered through the cold with insufficient fuel to keep them warm. Now in the summer heat, the Reuters news agency reports that Iranians are enduring power outages that plunge them into darkness, stop their air conditioners, and drive indoor temperatures sky high.

Although Iran has vast natural energy resources, its oil and gas infrastructure is in poor shape. Iran imports more than forty percent of its gasoline, and rations gas to its citizens. Adding to the difficulties for the Iranian people, inflation and unemployment are soaring.

Much of the bleak economic picture is due to mismanagement by the leaders of the regime. But Iran is also laboring under sanctions and other financial restrictions because of its refusal to suspend its enrichment and reprocessing activities that could lead to nuclear weapons. Recently the French energy company Total announced that it is pulling out of investing in Iran's South Pars gas field project. The company's chief executive said the political risk was too high. Royal Dutch Shell and Spain's Repsol YPF have also withdrawn from Iranian gas projects.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says Iran is paying an increasing price for not complying with international obligations concerning its nuclear program:

"They are starting to feel the effects of the Security Council resolutions. They are starting to feel the effects of the United States and European countries working together on individual designations and steps that individual countries might take. You know, Iran's credit risk rating has been downgraded. Iranian companies are no longer able to get letters of credit in order to
do business in the international trading and financial system. So there are real costs here."

A different path remains available to Iran. The United States and five other nations have offered Iran a package of economic and trade benefits, as well as access to civilian nuclear power, if Iran verifiably suspends it uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities. If Iran's leaders were interested in the welfare of the Iranian people, that is the path they would take.