West Claims Sanctions Now Biting

             After six years of international sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, Western powers claim that their punitive measures are having a significant impact on Iran’s economy. According to U.S., European and Israeli officials, sanctions have compounded problems generated by Tehran’s economic mismanagement. They have also contributed to the plummeting value of Iran’s currency, which triggered recent protests in Tehran’s bazaar. Restrictions on trade with Iran have also led to an unprecedented decline in Iranian oil sales worldwide.

             But in a separate report to the United Nations on October 5, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon criticized international sanctions. In his toughest statement to date, he charged that Iranian citizens are suffering from “an escalation in inflation, a rise in commodities and energy costs, an increase in the rate of unemployment and a shortage of necessary items, including medicine.”
             Western leaders have repeatedly emphasized that Tehran could ease international pressure by complying with the seven U.N. resolutions passed since 2006. The following are recent statements by senior U.S., European, U.N. and Israeli officials on Iran’s economic turmoil.
U.S. Officials
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
             “They have made their own government decisions, having nothing to do with the sanctions, that have had an impact on the economic conditions inside the country…Of course the sanctions have had an impact as well, but those could be remedied in short order if the Iranian government were willing to work with the P5+1 and the rest of the international community in a sincere manner.” October 3
State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland
             “The growing protests show that clearly the Iranian people are demanding better from their government and speaking out against the gross mismanagement of the economy and the situation in the country.” October 3
National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor
             “The onus is on Iran to abide by its international obligations with respect to its nuclear program. If the Iranian government continues its defiance, there should be no doubt that the United States and our partners will continue to tighten our sanctions and impose increasing consequences.” October 9
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
             “The international community has been unified in that effort and has agreed, as a result of that unity to impose probably the most serious sanctions, economic sanctions, that have been imposed on a nation. Those sanctions have been put in place, they are having a significant impact on the economy in Iran as evidenced by some of the demonstrations that have taken place within the last few days.” October 6 
             “I think the fact that there are these demonstrations reflects that people are feeling the impact. I would hope that the combination of all of this would convince the regime and the government there to engage in serious negotiations.” October 5
Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen
             “What in particular has sparked the most recent precipitous decline in the rial, I'm not in a position to say on a granular basis…That is undoubtedly in significant part due to the Iranian government's own mismanagement of its economy and it is in part due to the effect of sanctions. The Iranian leadership has within its capacity the ability to relieve the pressure its people are feeling.” October 5
European Officials
British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond
             “We can definitely make the pain much greater. The only thing that is likely to budge the regime is if they see or sense an existential threat. If the level of economic pressure starts to translate into potentially regime-threatening disruption and dissent on the streets of Tehran, then they may change course. 
             "There is evidence that the leadership is beginning to fracture over this question… Nobody wants to cause the Iranian people to suffer unnecessarily but this mad scheme to build a bomb has to be brought to an end.” October 6, told to The Observer Newspaper
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle
             “We call for Iran to stop playing for time, the situation is serious indeed, time is short…We want a political solution and we are putting all our efforts into achieving that goal.” September 28
Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi
             “Sanctions are showing all their efficiency, as confirmed by the Iranian currency rial's collapse. The military attack instead would be a leap in the unknown, susceptible to increase instability in the whole area.” early October
U.N. Officials
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
            “The sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran have had significant effects on the general population, including an escalation in inflation, a rise in commodities and energy costs, an increase in the rate of unemployment and a shortage of necessary items, including medicine.” October 5
Israeli Officials
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz
             “The sanctions on Iran in the past year jumped a level…It is not collapsing, but it is on the verge of collapse. The loss of income from oil there is approaching $45-50 billion by the year's end…The Iranians are in great economic difficulties as a result of the sanctions.” September 30
             “There are indications that the average citizen is actually blaming the Iranian leadership for the situation and not the West, which has imposed the sanctions. Basic necessities like chicken, bread, meat and electricity have gone up sharply in price.” September 27
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
             “The opposition demonstrations that took place in Iran in June 2009 will come back in even greater force...In my view, there's going to be an Iranian-style Tahrir revolution. The young generation are sick of being held hostage and sacrificing their future… It's not that they're opposed to the nuclear program, but they aren't willing to pay these crazy prices.” September 30
             “International sanctions will not convince the leaders of the country to renounce their nuclear program, but what is important is that the Iranian people have begun to realize that they are not ready to be sacrificed to satisfy the revolutionary and fanatic ambitions of their leaders.” October 4