Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sanctions on Iran should be last resort

Iran’s stonewalling of the benefits package offered by the Bush administration probably one of the most, if not the most, successful piece of proactive foreign policy the administration has produced — has weakened Iran’s position in its nuclear standoff. Russia and China, while still officially opposing sanctions on Iran, agreed last week to consider a U.N. security resolution that would require the “rogue nation” to halt certain nuclear activities or face sanctions.

This marks an important change; both countries have substantial economic interests in Iran and seem intent on forming a geopolitical counterweight to the West. The G8 countries also lent support to a Russian plan to establish international atomic-fuel centers, which would be useful in closing the gaping loophole in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that allows countries to synthesize fuel for “civilian” use. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite their difficulties on other issues — for instance, Russia’s recently botched entry into the World Trade Organization — both voiced serious concern July 17 that Iran had still not responded.

Iranian and Syrian support of Hezbollah, which Iran has been cozy with since its militant Islamist revolution in the ’70s, appears to be raising the stakes for what seems like an inevitable confrontation.

If sanctions are imposed, it would only serve to make Iran more irate and inward-looking. Although an oil embargo has been suggested, it is “seen as highly unlikely and … could further rattle global markets,” according to a New York Times article. Other restrictions on the table include “travel restrictions on Iranian officials, a ban on cultural exchanges and visas for Iranians, financial restrictions, [and] political sanctions.” If these sanctions were adapted without an effective oil embargo, it would be for the worst; the Iranians would still have an ample source of money for nukes, and the bile in their throats would almost certainly rise to the vomiting point.

The benefits offered by the Bush administration, on the other hand, look much better. Support for Iranian entrance into the WTO, ending a ban on selling aircraft and parts to Iran, access to nuclear reactors, and much more are all included in the incentives package, which would make crucial progress toward giving Iran a real and legitimate interest in international stability. There are certainly cultural obstacles to this approach, but these have been overcome in the past — witness the long-gone Christian ban on lending money at interest.

Iran’s shrunken, largely state-controlled economy gives it little to lose, as things are now. If Iran can be brought into the fold, the chances for peace are much better.

Tyler Bleau
Editorial writer

1 comment:

The Real Sporer said...

What conceivable reason could anyone have to believe that this Iranian regime would comply with any promises to suspend its nuclear weapons program?

Is the history of the democratic world's failure to confront the demons in the 20s and 30s off the curriculum in IC now.

Or, perhaps the good hearty Hi Oh Silver that the mutant in North Korea gave the Clinton Administration as we paid for the acceleration of their nuclear weapons program in the 90s?