One of the several dilemmas facing Obama administration officials in their chess match with Iran is this: At what point do they meet serious Iranian nuclear concessions (assuming, as I don’t, that these concessions are in the offing) with actual sanctions relief? If Iran shows itself willing to scale back dramatically its stockpiles of enriched uranium, or give up a substantial number of its centrifuges, wouldn’t the U.S. have to meet such gestures by lifting of at least some sanctions?
Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, the choke-point for Persian Gulf oil shipments, reveals how deeply the latest Western sanctions -- and the threat of even tougher measures -- have spooked the clerical regime.
When Mohammad-Reza needed parts for his heater company in Iran last month, he carried a bagful of 500-euro notes on a plane to Dubai and paid his German supplier over coffee in a hotel lobby. Often, he says, he has to use even riskier channels.