The international economic sanctions that have been imposed on Iran are having "significant" effects on the Iranian people and are harming humanitarian operations inside the country, UN Secretary General ban Ki Moon reported to the UN General Assembly, Friday. The sanctions "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," the report said. Payment problems have caused shortages of medicines needed for treating cancer, heart and respiratory conditions and other diseases, Moon said in the report.
Moon's report was released at the end of a week that saw protests in Tehran and elsewhere in Iran as inflation spiraled out of control as a result of the collapse of the rial, which last about one-third of its value this week alone. Under these conditions, people die, but Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, sounding much like Madeline Albright in 1996 when she said that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to sanctions were "worth it," said on Tuesday that Iran can get relief from the sanctions if the government was willing to work with the international community "in a sincere manner."
But what reason does Iran have to believe that there's any intention of lifting the sanctions if they shut down their nuclear program? An unnamed Western diplomat complained to Reuters, Friday, that Iranian proposals to address concerns about its nuclear activities always include a demand to lift the sanctions before they would suspend such activities, which, he said, is unacceptable.
In fact, the U.S. (and others) rejected Iran's latest 9 point proposal just this week, at least in part on this basis.
And, the response of certain members of the US Congress to the unrest in Iran this week is to strangle the country even more. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said he plans to push for new penalties on foreign banmks that handle any significant transactions with Iran's central bank. Only oil-related transactions are currently sanctioned. "It seems to me we have to completely exhaust all the tools in our sanctions arsenal, and do so quickly, before Iran finds a way to navigate out of its current crisis," Menendez told Reuters in an interview. Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) is working on a similar proposal in the House.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is at risk of following in the foot steps of Albright. The sanctions on Iraq weren't lifted until the Saddam Hussein regime was removed by force in 2003, an action that killed many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Is there a similar plan for Iran lurking in the shadows?