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Are sanctions starting to 'bite' Iran?
New measures designed to cut into Tehran's financial lifeline — its oil revenue — may be shaking Iran's economy and unnerving its ruling mullahs
Iran has conducted 10 days of exercises, test-firing missiles, the sort of belligerence experts interpret as a sign that the country is rattled by new U.S. sanctions.
Iran has conducted 10 days of exercises, test-firing missiles, the sort of belligerence experts interpret as a sign that the country is rattled by new U.S. sanctions.
REUTERS/Jamejamonline/Ebrahim Norouzi
T

he new sanctions Iran provoked with its defiant nuclear program are starting to "bite," says the Obama administration, citing Tehran's increasingly belligerent rhetoric. After President Obama signed a bill on New Year's Eve calculated to cut into Iran's oil trade — 60 percent of its economy — the country's currency plummeted to a record low. And Europe is talking about imposing similar penalties. Iran's foreign minister insisted the depreciation had nothing to do with the U.S. law, noting that the penalties the U.S. law imposes against countries doing business with Iran have yet to take effect. But do Tehran's saber rattling and economic troubles prove international pressure is finally starting to work?

Obama is hitting Iran where it hurts: "The sanctions Obama has introduced and has encouraged other nations to adopt are tougher" than any Iran has ever faced, says Ron Kampeas at the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), as they will make it impossible for most buyers to pay for Iranian crude. They clearly are "biting the Iranian economy." And with the Fifth Fleet backing up the economic pressure by "flexing its muscle in the Persian Gulf," Tehran has good reason to be nervous.
"Iowa — Middle East mentions in the Middle West"

This only buys Iran more time to go nuclear: Imposing new sanctions will "merely delay the inevitable day of reckoning with Iran," says John Yoo at National Review. It didn't work for George W. Bush; it won't work for Obama. Nuclear watchdogs say "Iran will soon join the ranks of the world's nuclear powers," so what we should be doing is "preparing the case for a military strike." That's the only way to take out its nuclear program once and for all.
"An unavoidable challenge"

The U.S. must hit Iran with sanctions and military threats: The survival of the Iranian regime is under threat, says Kori Schake at Foreign Policy. Sanctions are "biting," and while the U.S. has stopped short of striking Iranian nuclear facilities, it has "pushed back on Iranian maritime harassment." Meanwhile, reformists are preparing a challenge in Iran's upcoming elections that would destroy the regime's "domestic legitimacy" — maybe, with our support, Iranians can get rid of their oppressors themselves.
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