New signs are emerging that international sanctions are taking a deepening toll on Iran’s economy – putting billions of dollars in oil money out of the government’s reach.
Yet there is no indication the distress is achieving the West’s ultimate goal of forcing the Islamic Republic to halt its nuclear programme.
Iran has proved adept at working around sanctions, and if oil prices do not plummet, US analysts say the country probably has enough economic stamina to reach what the West suspects is its true intention – producing nuclear weapons. “They can hang on for a long time,” said Steve Hanke, a professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University in the US, who follows the Iranian economy. “The sanctions as a deterrent for nuclear ambitions are more or less futile because all the experts will tell you they can [make a weapon] in a couple of years.”
Sanctions are at the core of international efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear programme. If they fail, the West may have to choose between accepting a nuclear-armed Iran or taking military action.