President Hassan Rouhani will be the first Iranian leader in a decade to visit the World Economic Forum in Davos next week, when he’ll have a chance to turn his nuclear diplomacy into deals that can boost the economy.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Twenty-six U.S. senators introduced a measure to impose further sanctions against Iran if it violates a six-month accord with the U.S. and other nations or fails to reach a final agreement curtailing its nuclear program.
For more than 15 years and more than any other world leader, Benjamin Netanyahu demanded sanctions against Iran to stop it from getting nuclear weapons. Now, as the sanctions are credited with weakening the Iranian economy enough to prompt a thaw between the U.S. and the Islamic nation, the Israeli prime minister is among the skeptics who remain unconvinced that anything significant has changed.