Whereas the Iranian nuclear intentions are unclear, its inability to show cooperation with the rest of the world is doubtlessly clear. While the Iranian president Ahmadinejad has been heard in many occasions saying that the Iranian nuclear power is meant to serve a peaceful course, the rest of the world still remains unconvinced (Zalman 2006).
Speculations on the Iran’s nuclear capability have been on the high, with some experts asserting that the country is about a year from its target of producing its own nuclear warhead, even though others say that is a decade or so. The consequences of this undertaking have far much reaching effects not only to Israel, but also other states of the world, especially the super powers like the U.S. The United States of America’s special interests will be at trial due to the following: 1) a nuclear Iran will inspire a greater proliferation of the Middle East; 2) it might trigger increased oil prices by manipulating the prices; 3) it would use an augmented terrorism to remove any U.S engagement in the Middle East, thus, raising its control of the Middle East, on which the rest of the world hugely depends in terms of the petroleum (Weisberg 2006). There are those, who guess that a major war looms, when the climax of the competition between Iran and the U.S. becomes too overwhelming.
As for now, there have been quite a number of rounds of sanctions that have not produced viable results. In December 2006, the United Nations Security Council imposed the first round of sanctions on Iran as a response to the increased pressure from the United States of America.
A report that was compiled in the year 2005 suggests that these sanctions have impacted the Iranian economy negatively. Some of these sanctions included freezing of the assets of 64 companies and those of individuals that are linked to the nuclear power of Iran. A travel ban on five individuals connected to the Iranian Nuclear plan was also issued. Others received a ban on the export of Iranian arms and a ban of the supply of Iran with any know-how or material that can be used for purposes of nuclear programs by any country. Additionally, incentives, such as collaborative development of a civil nuclear package and more trade opportunities, have been offered to Iran, which appeared to dismiss them in the beginning (2006). It, however, appeared to soften its stand in the year 2008. Six countries among them five UN members (namely the U.S., the U.K., Russia, China and France) and Germany made this offer.
Nonetheless, the government of Iran has shown increased uranium activities that are geared towards benefiting it as a country alone. Government after the government has handed over these aspirations to new ones that are succeeding them a quest that seems to be rooted deep down in the Iranian political leaders (Mozgovaya, Melman & Ravid 2013). For instance, the current Iranian president, Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has been very inflammatory rhetorically in the recent past subsequent to his actions relating to the nuclear power. In the autumn of 2008, the UN General Assembly convened an AGM, in which they had a few things to discuss the issue of the Iranian nuclear program. In this meeting, the Security Council made approval of a resolution, which was seeking the confirmation of sanctions on Iran. The council also reaffirmed its support in terms of offering incentives to Iran if it stopped the uranium enrichment.
Background of the study
The inauguration of the Iran’s nuclear development plan began in the 1950s, during the rule of Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. Though the program picked up well and started making tremendous steps, the most significant shift was in the 1979, during the Islamic Revolution and the Iraq war of 1980s. These two factors were very crucial in terms of the development of the nuclear program until the late 1980s. The year 2003 saw the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency carrying out an inspection of the nuclear facilities in Kenya. As a result, the IAEA made a discovery of quite a number of violations that went contrary to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Nuclear Threat Initiative Organization reported that Iran had admitted partaking construction strategies for the two enrichment facilities. It also admitted having a heavy water production plant and fuel lubrication plant. In addition, its undertaking of research into conversion and enrichment activities was acknowledged. The next two years that followed this discovery were characterized by competing claims from all the parties involved. Iran’s nuclear intentions were again in the limelight. Consequently, the European Union, the United States, the IAEA and Iran issued statements that were confrontational to each other.
To begin with, there was a lack of clarity on what purpose the nuclear reactors that were being built at Bushehr, Arak and Natanz were meant to serve. Nobody knew its true agenda, except Iran itself (or better yet the Iranian leader at that time). Another thing that gave rise to the competing claims was the extent, to which Iran had been able to develop its ability to arm itself independently. Another area that brought about the misunderstandings was the doubt that Iran truly reported its entire nuclear materials and sites for inspection from the international inspectors. It became apparent that none of the parties knew for sure whether the issue was supposed to be reported to the UN Security Council for resolving or not. Above all, the forces trying to counter the agitation of Iran did not know if the incentives or the sanctions that they were imposing on Iran were appropriate. This made it challenging because it delayed the response rate and also the effectiveness of the measures put in place to see that Iran is controlled with regard to nuclear prowess (Nasr 2013).
The government of Iran responded by voluntarily suspending development activities for a short period, starting from November 2004 to August 2005. After the temporal break form development, it then comes back to IAEA, alerting it of its willingness to resume with development activities. This became the highlight of the IAEA Director General report that followed these announcements by Iran. However, in the 2005, the IAEA for the first time found Iran to be non-compliant with the NPT stipulations, which made the necessity of referral to the Security Council a prospective choice. This came to being in February 2006, when the IAEA Board finally reported Iran to the Security Council. One month down the line, Rice, the U.S Secretary of State, was recorded saying that the Iran’s nuclear program posed the biggest challenge to the United States of America.
In the year 1979, during the Islamic Revolution and following the hostage crisis, the U.S. instigated expansive economic sanctions on Iran. Since this move by the U.S.A., which is the world’s superpower, Washington has continued to increase sanctions on Iran. The U.S. government has often accused Iran of producing nuclear weapons and funding terrorism in other parts of the globe. One of the main targets of these sanctions is to block all the U.S. based companies from operating in Iran (Warrick 2013). The sanctions are further generalized to block the foreign competitors of U.S. firms from doing business in Iran. This has for a while given the U.S. government a strong incentive as a result of these generalizations.
In the year 2003, the Iranian government revealed its uranium enrichment program. The program was being undertaken in Natanz. Ironically, the Iranian authorities claimed that the technology was meant to be put in use for purposes of peace. It then invited the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit and inspect the program. In retaliation, the United States of America responded by alleging that this program was part of the Iranian nuclear weapon development and, therefore, sought after referring it to the Security Council. Nevertheless, in the following year, in November, 2004, Tehran managed to sign a temporal settlement with France, Germany and Britain, which saw the country cease the uranium enrichment. As a result of this, the IAEA issued Iran a clean health bill. The Security Council interventions that were being pushed by the United States of America were avoided in turn. IAEA, however, reassured that it could not confirm yet if Iran had stopped pursuing nuclear activities. Following this, the IAEA referred Iran to the Security Council.
In June 2006, the UN’s Security Council accepted the resolution that endorsed Germany and the P5’s offer of both economic and diplomatic incentives to Iran. It demanded that Iran suspended all the uranium enrichment programs by August 31stof the same year. Tehran failed to comply. In December, the Council sanctioned the Iranian trade technology and nuclear materials. Iran was offered a 60 day grace period of stopping the uranium enrichment in exchange for a lift on the sanctions, but it did not comply, as well. Consequently, in March 2007, the Resolution 1747 was passed with the purpose of intensifying previous sanctions. More Iranian officials were named as targets of sanctions, as well as the financial institutions of Iran. Iran still vowed to continue with the uranium enrichment activities.
Iran has continued to demonstrate its compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty (NPT), hence the countries that have been backing sanctions have in most cases provided no evidence to challenge this (Smith 2013). In December 2007, the U.S.A intelligence services confirmed that Iran had put an end to its research on nuclear weapons back in the year 2003. However, not even this proposition has swayed the strong stand by Washington. The policies of Washington in relation to Iranian nuclear activities still remain unshaken. It was just in March 2008, when the Security Council passed Resolution 1803 that reaffirmed previous sanctions.
Debates had continued to rage, especially after September 2009, when Great Britain, the United States and France made a revelation that Iran was trying to build a uranium enrichment plant near Qom. Iran, however, maintained that the facility was meant to serve a peaceful purpose.
In the year 2010, Russia and China, which were previously supporting Iran on its nuclear quest, seemed to be reconsidering their stand. The U.S.A, France and Great Britain still continued to push for more sanctions on Iran. Another resolution still looms, even though some Council members, such as Turkey, Brazil and Lebanon, are advocating for diplomacy.
In November 2011, Barrack Obama, the U.S. president issued a number of new sanctions on Iran. The main target of these sanctions was the petroleum industry. The White House gave the executive order to the U.S. Congress aimed at mounting the sanctions to target goods, services, support and technology supply to Iran. This negatively impacted on the Iran’s petroleum resource development, along with the expansion and maintenance of the petrochemical industry (Rennack 2002). Hillary Clinton the Secretary of State said in her briefing that these sanctions had not yet exhausted the opportunities for further sanctions and that the U.S. government was still considering more aggressive sanctions to Iran. Whereas the focus of the U.S. is to put pressure on Iran, the Secretary of State argued that her government is committed to be involved in the engagement with Iran, in case Iran is seriously willing to do so and without any preconditions. Nikolas Sarkozy, the French president, had early called on the world powers to target the Central Bank of Iran by freezing its assets. Conversely, Obama did to target the Central Bank.
Perhaps the clearest and most determined call is that of the French president Nikolas Sarkozy. In his letter in to Western countries, he sought to rally behind them in an effort to instigate heavy penalties to Iran. This would hinder the nuclear armament development by Iran. This statement would also be seen as the best so far and maybe the last viable attempt to get Iran doing what the majority of the world wants it to do, and that is to stop the nuclear weapon production. This will ensure a prevention of a military strike in the vent that the sanctions have run out of their course.
Many specialists are of the opinion that it is only through the injury of the Iran’s oil exportation enterprise that it can reconsider its position. Additionally, freezing of the foreign assets may also force Tehran to reconsider the nuclear ambitions. Furthermore, the strict measures on Iran were also heightened by the IAEA’s report in November 2011, which suggested that Iran had previously worked on designing an Atomic bomb, and that it might still be working on it. This range of unilateral steps by the Western countries further reflects the difficult of persuading China and Russia not to veto measures by the UN Security Council (Fayazmanesh 2008).
The Bush and Obama administrations not only have tried to push for negotiation, but have shown some signs of reaching out to the Iranian government. Thus, the sanctions by the Security Council and IAEA have not realized any tangible results from the government of Iran. What is unquestionable is the fact that these sanctions have caused a lot of suffering to the Iranian civilians. It then again leads to the question of the efficacy and legitimacy of both the targeted and general sanctions.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Exerting more pressure might not bear fruits after all, since it might lead to more suspicion from Iran, which will, in turn, want the nuclear program even more. The closer to the nuclear goals they get, the more likely it is for them to resist new pressures. It is time for the U.S.A. and the rest of the Western powers to test the real intention of the Iranian leaders by offering them a path for joining the international community. Military interventions should be avoided at all costs, since it might have damaging consequences both at home and abroad. As of September 2008, just 10% of American adults in the U.S. were of the opinion that the current threat by Iran required a military intervention.
Experts have shown that imposing sanctions on isolated regimes backfires in most cases. The economic deprivation leads to civilians, blaming the immediate root of their suffering (sanctions) and not the regime’s conduct. This explains why many Iranian citizens support their leaders’ decisions regarding nuclear programs and loathe the Western powers (Shirbon 2013).
The unintentional repercussions of sanctions should be reread before instigating the sanctions. Sanctioning Iran may reverberate beyond Iran. Historically, economic sanctions have had unfavorable effects on the populations in the targeted countries. In humanitarian terms, this is cruel. Moreover, it can radicalize the rest of the world population against the country that is putting in place these sanctions. This means that sanctions by the U.S.A. or the UN Security Council may strengthen Ahmadinejad’s position instead of weakening it.
The U.S. has been leading a six-nation talk with Iran, but this has been complicated by the differing agendas of the other five nations. It is time for these nations to step aside and allow the U.S. to a one-on-one with Iran. Rather than offering vague promises of reward with concessions by dropping the rest of the sanctions someday, Washington should offer to drop the sanctions piece by piece in exchange with particular Iranian concessions. By doing this, both sides might start ripping into pieces the most hazardous parts of the Iranian nuclear program in increasing and certifiable ways. Even though Iran might lose enthusiasm in the process as the sanctions disappear, by that time some useful pieces of information would have been given way, thus leaving the world safer than it was before.