Experts: EU sanctions will not change, but rather strengthen Iranian regime's position on nuclear program
Azerbaijan, Baku, July 28 / Trend, T.Konyayeva /
The European Union's new sanctions against Iran will not affect the country's behavior, more than - they can strengthen the Iranian regime's position on its nuclear program, experts say.
"Will EU and American sanctions change the trajectory of the Islamic Republic regime? I think it is doubtful for some reasons," Philip Carl Salzman, Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, Adjunct Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies told Trend by e-mail.
July 26, Foreign Ministers of the EU's 27 countries at the meeting in Brussels approved the additional EU sanctions against Iran, most of which were expected to come into force from July 27.
The EU sanctions envisages, in particular, freezing of investments in the country's oil and gas sector, a ban on the transfer of industrial technologies and equipment, as well as provision of core services. It is proposed to ban the export of products in the sphere of trade that can be used by Iran for military purposes.
Salzman called the lack of the universal common position towards strong sanctions as one of the reasons for doubting the effectiveness of sanctions.
"Russia has already condemned the EU sanctions. I doubt that China will support them. Nor will most other Muslim countries," he said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry stated July 27 that U.S. and the EU pressure on Iran demonstrates disregard of the principles of joint work in the Group of Six and the UN Security Council (UNSC), and the unacceptable practice of using unilateral or collective sanctions against the country.
U.S. expert James Forest also believes that the effectiveness really depends on whether or not these sanctions are enforced universally.
"In difficult economic times, it would not surprise anyone to see some countries quietly looking the other way when it comes to cracking down on sanctions violators," Forest, Visiting associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, at the University of Massachusetts Lowell told Trend by e-mail.
According to Salzman, Iran is experienced in doing things indirectly, and will, to a degree, find ways around the sanctions.
He also says that Iran believes in its destiny to triumph and such measures will not dissuade it. . "The regime is willing to face short term pain for long term gain," Salzman said.
Regarding the sanctions' influence on ordinary people he said that as the Iran regime does not hesitate in brutalizing and murdering its own citizens, it is not going to flinch as the prospect of a limited set of restrictions.
Salzman also supposes thatfurther talks will achieve nothing, because the assumptions and goals of the West and of Iran do not sufficiently overlap to allow compromise.
"Iran does not see the EU or the US as willing to put any muscle behind their demands; Iran thus sees them as fading from the scene," he said.
According to Salzman, in sum, Iran will see the sanctions as part of their struggle with the Western "arrogance," and success in building nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them as a decisive tool in Iran's final triumph.
"So if anything, Iran will press forward even more energetically," he said.
Forest believes that the real value of these sanctions is in demonstrating just how much isolation Iran's actions are bringing upon itself.
"A responsible regime, one that truly cares about the well-being of its citizens, should replace its bellicose and pointless defiance and choose a new direction that demonstrates goodwill and cooperation with the global community," he said.
According to Forest, it remains to be seen whether Iran's current leaders are even considering such a move. "Perhaps these sanctions will encourage them to reflect upon the long-term impact of their policies," he said.
Russian expert Vladimir Yevseev said that it is hard to talk about the effectiveness of new sanctions against Iran, because there is no strict control over economic activity in Europe.
"Nevertheless, it should be noted that for the first time sanctions, which have significantly expanded the scope of relevant Security Council resolutions, have been imposed," senior researcher of the International Security Centre at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of World Economy & International Relations Yevseev told Trend via e-mail.
The UN Security Council adopted another, the fourth resolution June 9, 2010 which provides for tougher sanctions against Tehran in connection with its refusal to cease its uranium enrichment activity.
Besides inspections on Iranian ships and shipping restrictions, the document provides for sanctions against Iranian banks abroad, if there is suspicion that they are relevant to the development of Iran's nuclear or missile programs. The resolution also calls for vigilance while carrying out transactions involving Iranian banks, including the Central Bank. It also calls but not requires countries to block financial transactions with Iran, including insurance.
Adoption of new sanctions testifies about toughening of the EU's position in general on the Iranian nuclear issue, despite the significant dependence of some European countries from the supply of Iranian oil, Yevseev said.
Iran is the second largest exporter of oil among OPEC countries. Iran exports about 2 million barrels of oil per day. The main buyers of Iranian oil - Western Europe (35-50 percent) and Japan (20 percent). The leader in the import of Iranian oil in Europe is Italy.
Yevseev believes the ban in the oil and gas field in conjunction with the new U.S. sanctions will contribute to withdrawal of not only European large but also medium oil and gas companies from the Iranian market.
"Replacing them by companies from China and the Republic of Korea will not be complete. In particular, it will greatly complicate the development of technologies of natural gas liquefaction by Iranian specialists," he said.
Yevseev said that a serious problem arises while delivering oil, since the refusal of major European insurance companies from the cooperation has already complicated the delivery of oil by sea (pipeline network available in Iran is not designed for oil export).
"We have terminated the activity of Iranian transportation companies engaged in cargo transportation on water and air. It seems that Tehran would have to charter a foreign tanker fleet. It will inevitably reduce the received oil revenues," he said.
Income, received from export of oil and oil products, is the main source of economic growth, foreign exchange earnings and formation of the revenue of the Iranian state budget. About 85 percent of foreign exchange earnings and 75 percent of rial income in Iran, either directly or indirectly is associated with the production of oil.
Yevseev sad that it will be difficult to find companies willing to engage in such transportation and having a sufficient number of large tankers.
"As a result, the flow of Iranian oil to Europe has fallen significantly. It will allow imposing of new, even more severe sanctions of the EU against Iran", he said.
Iranian expert on international issues Hasan Behishtipur believes that, without a doubt, the sanctions will have an impact.
"The EU, U.S. and Israel have a pressure on Iran to compel it to refrain from implementing its nuclear program. But Iran has taken some preventive measures inside the country to ease the impact of sanctions," Behishtipur said over phone from Tehran.
He said that the Western countries and the U.S. announced that sanctions were aimed against the Iranian government, but not against the Iranian people. But in reality people will face great difficulties, but not the government.
"I think that the policy conducted by Western countries and the use of sanctions as a stick in the negotiations will fail to give any result," he said.
E. Ostapenko, T. Jafarov contributed to the article