In Executive Order, Obama Ramps Up Sanctions on Iran

For the fifth time in the past year, the US increased economic sanctions on Iran, despite the consensus that they have no weapons program

by John Glaser, July 31, 2012

The United States ramped up economic sanctions against Iran on Tuesday, targeting the oil and banking sectors in a move that will further harm the Iranian population.

Obama again claimed the purpose of the sanctions was to block Iran from developing the means to make a nuclear weapon. “If the Iranian government continues its defiance, there should be no doubt that the United States and our partners will continue to impose increasing consequences.”

But the administration admits, along with everyone else, that Iran has no weapons program and has not made the decision to start one. And Iran has only defied the absurd demand the US has made in negotiations that Iran halt all uranium enrichment, even at low levels, as is their right.

After the failed talks in 2009 and 2010, wherein Obama ended up rejecting the very deal he demanded the Iranians accept, as Harvard professor Stephen Walt has written, the Iranian leadership “has good grounds for viewing Obama as inherently untrustworthy.” Former CIA analyst Paul Pillar has concurred, arguing that Iran has “ample reason” to believe, “ultimately the main Western interest is in regime change.”

This is the fifth set of sanctions leveled against Iran in the past year. By an executive order signed by Obama, it aims to prevent new “payment mechanisms for the purchase of Iranian oil to circumvent existing sanctions.”

Earlier in the week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta admitted that, so far, the economic warfare on Iran has not altered the leadership’s position. Indeed, historically speaking, sanctions are very ineffective. Renowned international relations theorist Kenneth Waltz recently wrote in Foreign Affairs that “the current sanctions on Iran can be dropped,” since “they primarily harm ordinary Iranians, with little purpose.”

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