Sanctions on Iran
Iran has ‘greeted’ re-imposition of the US sanctions by putting on display its air defence drills amid concerns that the situation would deteriorate further in the Middle East. Iran is already in the grip of an economic crisis. The return of US sanctions is intended to restrain Iran’s behaviourb beyond nuclear controls but runs the risk of reviving a program to develop atomic weapons. The newly imposed sanctions were divided into two phases. The first phase had come into effect from August 7 this year. Under the first phase, restrictions were imposed on Iran’s purchase of U.S. currency; Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals; and the sale to Iran of auto parts, commercial passenger aircraft, and related parts and services. The second set of sanctions, which is being implemented now will restrict sales of oil and petrochemical products from Iran. The US has taken strict action on the basis of Iran’s alleged involvement in extending support Houthi rebels in Yemen and Hezbollah. On the other hand, the new sanctions have triggered protests in Iran. Sporadic demonstrations still continue. Thousands of protesters have been protesting for regime change while President Hassan Rouhani has acknowledged people’s complaints but refused to bow before the agitation guided by foreign opposition groups or the U.S.
The Middle East has become a troubled area where everybody is trying his might. Most countries are convinced that Iran is endangering peace in the Middle East by indulging in a nuclear arms race, which is not in the interests of Iran as well as the region. Iran is rich in oil and gas; why is it prepared to stake so much on its nuclear programme if the programme is only for peaceful purposes? To what end is Iran developing its strategic missile capability? The US is constantly trying to put Iran down and has made no bones about it. The word on how the US wants to deal with Iran keeps fluctuating between some sort of compromise to the possible use of force. There are indications from the US that it would no more show any leniency towards Iran’s nuclear programme. The standoff can lead to more chaos. For Pakistan, the possibility of another conflict right next door is not a happy prospect. The problem is that Islamabad is not in a position to do much to prevent such a conflict if Iran and the US head that way. One thing is clear that Iran is not ready to bow to the pressure of the US due to the strong influence of the Revolutionary Guards and its effects on the Iranian defence policy.