The West’s stiffened sanctions against Iran are apparently starting to bite.
Since July, when the European Union voted to end purchases of Iranian oil, Iran’s main source of income, exports have fallen by 30 percent or more. And sanctions against Iran’s banks have blocked access to as much as $110 billion in foreign currency reserves.
The sanctions are intended to halt Iran’s uranium-enrichment program, the first step toward developing a nuclear weapon. Iran has blustered and stalled in international talks aimed at reaching some kind of agreement to restrain the program.
Now the country is seeing its currency collapse, dramatically so in the past week.
Iran’s ruling clerics are clearly worried that economic discontent may translate into political discontent, and although there has been nothing like the massive protests that followed the last election, it was a worrisome sign that 10,000 workers signed an open petition to the government protesting their loss of purchasing power.
Iran’s monetary problems give credence to President Barack Obama’s refusal to let Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu browbeat him into drawing “red lines” for military strikes in favor of giving sanctions more time to work.
Dale McFeatters’ editorial is distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.