Are Iran Sanctions Working? -Elliott Abrams
- It's a commonplace to say that sanctions against Iran are tighter than ever and are working. The problem is that sanctions appear to be having no impact on Iran's nuclear weapons program, which is after all their purpose.
- The damage to Iran's economy is visible, foreign exchange reserves are down from $100 billion to $75 billion, but that is not economic collapse.
- A foreign ambassador stationed in Iran recently told me that the depressed value of the currency means that a middle class family can no longer afford an annual vacation in Turkey and now has to vacation inside Iran. But that's hardly the kind of thing that produces rioting and it isn't going to produce a change in the Supreme Leader's nuclear policy.
- Reuters' Middle East economics editor recently wrote that sanctions "are not close to having the 'crippling' effect envisaged by Washington. The Iranian government has found ways to soften the impact."
- So sanctions are hurting Iran's economy, and are hurting many Iranians - though the richest can take care of themselves, and the poorest are protected by the government with subsidies for food. But there is no crisis, and it seems to be wishful thinking that the ayatollahs will abandon their nuclear program because the economic pain is too great.
(Council on Foreign Relations)
No Shift in Nuclear Behavior -Joby Warrick & Anne Gearan
Nine months after Iran was hit with the toughest restrictions in its history, the nation's economy appears to have settled into a slow, downward glide, hemorrhaging jobs and hard currency but appearing to be in no immediate danger of collapse, Western diplomats and analysts say.
At the same time, the hardships have not triggered significant domestic protests or produced a single concession by Iran on its nuclear program. Marine Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, said Iran has accelerated its nuclear program in the past year, despite the diplomatic and economic pressure.