Iran's Nuclear Program: Will More Sanctions Work?

[Christian Science Monitor ] Scott Peterson - Sanctions as a tool have had mixed success globally in recent decades, and analysts say record oil prices give Iran an advantage. "So long as we are selling the oil, nothing will work" to force Iran to give up its nuclear efforts, says a senior Iranian banker interviewed recently in Tehran. "We could survive in this country with $15 billion per year, and now we're making $100 billion," says the banker, whose operational costs have "increased tremendously" under current sanctions. That economic gusher has helped President Ahmadinejad mask an array of problems, from overspending and inflation near 25% to high unemployment. Strategically, it has also enabled Iran to lock in its anti-Western and anti-Israel stance. Saddam Hussein survived 12 years of sanctions, and even bolstered his power by manipulating them. "The sanctions on arms and military imports had a massive impact," says Anthony Cordesman, a veteran military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "Iraq's forces steadily declined [after 1991]," and the years of sanctions meant a far easier fight in the 2003 invasion. "We had tremendous success in restricting Iraq's military development [and] a massive impact on their WMD programs. But the broader sanctions...that impacted the Iraqi people were far less effective and had significant negative impact."

2008-06-13 01:00:00

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