Sanctions against Iran are mostly ineffective

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President Barack Obama announced further oil sanctions on Iran last Saturday, hoping to put a dent in Iran’s ever-present nuclear program.

“There is a sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the volume of petroleum and petroleum products purchased from Iran by or through foreign financial institutions,” Obama said. The sanctions would be implemented in three months and would show their effects a few months later.

What Obama failed to mention, however, is the historical lack of success of sanctions on Iran.

Since the 1920s, sanctions led by the United Nations on the Iranian economy have been minimally effective. The objective of chipping away at Iran’s nuclear facilities is far from being reached.

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad stated his intentions in 2008 to “wipe Israel off the map” if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons. Israel and the United States continually press the notion that a nuclear-viable Iran is not just a threat to Israel, but a global threat. The issue has heated up this year, with constant talk about a potential Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities in the coming months.

As Israeli journalist Merav Batito put it in an article for, “Economic sanctions are a superb solution for those who believe in the basic principles of democracy, such as accountability to one’s citizens, the holding of free elections and guaranteeing the basic right of human beings to make a living, speak up, or just express their views openly.” The Islamic Republic of Iran is not that kind of state and will not react to further sanctions. All past sanctions on Iran have proven to raise oil prices, instead of deteriorating Iran’s nuclear program. There is no sense behind the belief that further sanctions, especially at the highest point in Iran’s nuclear developments, will work.

The only thing that is missing, in this heap of policies and reactions to Iranian nuclear advancements, is any trust in Israel’s ability to act. “We are no longer that same old herd being led to the slaughter, as was the case in the early part of the 20th century. We have progressed a little since then; we also acquired some weapons during that time,” Israeli journalist Hagai Segal stated on, in response to doubts about Israel’s ability to effectively attack Iran. Increased belief and support in Israel’s defensive capabilities are more important than the historically disproved sanctions route.

Diplomatic negotiations have never worked with the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad government, and they never will work. Just as Iran has a window of opportunity for negotiations, Israel has a window of opportunity for beginning its militaristic approach. If Israel wants to impact Iran’s nuclear facilities effectively, it needs to do so in the coming months.

“Nip it in the bud” is an appropriate phrase, and whether this comes in the form of an Israeli offensive or a joint American-allied offensive is yet to be seen.

What is certain, however, is that sanctions are passive and have been proven ineffective against this type of regime.