Sanctions: The Economic War on Iran

By:  Jack Kenny
11/13/2012
       
Sanctions: The Economic War on Iran

If, as is claimed by the U.S. government, Iran cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons because its leaders are zealots who relish death, why is it likely that sanctions will deter it?

Defending President Barack Obama against Republican charges that he has not been tough enough on Iran, David Axelrod, senior advisor to the president, said on ABC’s This Week on March 4 of this year that the president had succeeded in “bringing the entire world together over the last few years with the most withering economic sanctions that have ever been administered against any country.” On August 1, both the House and Senate approved even more sanctions, which the president signed into law. Yet barely a month later Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was repeating his call for still tougher, “crippling sanctions” to force Iran to abandon its alleged pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

“I will have a very different approach with regard to Iran,” including “crippling sanctions that should have been put in place long ago,” Romney said in a September 9 interview on Fox News — despite the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies have reported there is no evidence Iran has decided to develop a nuclear weapon. The Tehran regime claims it is developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes, including energy production and the making of medical isotopes.

Innocent Victims

Perhaps Mitt Romney should talk to the parents of Milad, an eight-year-old Iranian in Kuhdasht, a town 400 miles southwest of Tehran. The Washington Post recently reported on the 12-hour bus journey to the capital the parents made with their child to purchase Feiba, a U.S.-made medicine needed to control the youngster’s severe hemophilia. They were able to obtain only enough for two days.

“I am really worried. My son’s life is at risk,” said Afsaneh, his mother. In addition to nose bleeds that could be life threatening, there is the possibility that the child could lose the use of his right leg. That would make the sanctions imposed by the United States and allied governments, in Romney’s word, truly “crippling.”

“This is a blatant hostage-taking of the most vulnerable people by countries which claim they care about human rights,” said Ahmad Ghavidel, head of the Iranian Hemophilia Society, which assists about 8,000 patients. One young man in southern Iran died after an accident when the blood-clotting injection he needed was not available, Ghavidel told the Post. “Even a few days of delay can have serious consequences like hemorrhage and disability,” he said.

Government officials in Tehran have said international sanctions have had little impact on the country, claiming 97 percent of Iran’s medicine is produced domestically. But while the volume of medical imports affected by the embargo may be small as a percentage, health experts say they are having a significant effect on medicines needed for chronic diseases for which there are no effective domestic remedies. And even those medicines that are produced domestically are dependent on imports for the materials used in their manufacture.

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Photo of President Obama signing a 2010 sanctions bill against Iran: AP Images

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