Additional sanctions on Iran came into effect this week and we must still ask the question as to what the reasoning is for the increase? What exactly has Iran done to deserve the increase and does this really get the world closer to a long-term resolution between them and the West? Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman points out:
“Removing sanctions would count as a confidence-building measure and can assist in a resolution of the issue but increasing sanctions would have no result, apart from making the issue more complex and harder to resolve,” he said.
Frankly, it’s a fair point. If we truly want Iran to come to the negotiating table with an open mind and prepared to work with the P5+1, adding more sanctions is probably not going to get us anywhere since none of the previous sanctions have done the job.
It was also revealed Iran has been purchasing a high grade of alumina ore from Europe which has some military uses and which also proves very little in terms of their nuclear ambitions. (This week’s sanctions are supposed to close this door as well.) With the lack of evidence Iran is pursuing nuclear materials for weapons purposes the additional penalties are coming for reasons that seem unclear, other than to have a political boogeyman to scare people with as I’ve pointed out before.
Advocates for more sanctions might point out Iran has sent arms to the Syrian regime and Hezbollah for use in the ongoing civil war. This may be considered bad behavior but there are two problems with wanting to penalize them for this action.
The first is that Russia was arming Assad as well. That being said, if you are going to enact penalties on Iran for doing it, wouldn’t we need to impose equal penalties on Russia? In fact, my guess would be the arms coming from Russia are probably a higher quality than those of Iran so wouldn’t the penalties need to be even more restrictive?
The second is the U.S. is now arming the rebels in Syria. From an objective perspective, wouldn’t this open the door for Iran to call for sanctions against the U.S. for arming an opponent they don’t like? That may sound silly but if we step away and just look at the situation from the outside, it’s a valid question.