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.
Officials in the U.S. and European Union are playing down the prospect of punishing Russia with sanctions targeting entire industries, opting instead to focus on tightening pressure by targeting more individuals and companies.
The Iranian officers who knocked out Saeid Pourheydar’s four front teeth also enlightened the opposition journalist. Held in Evin Prison for weeks following his arrest early last year for protesting, he says, he learned that he was not only fighting the regime, but also companies that armed Tehran with technology to monitor dissidents like him.
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.