Impose economic sanctions on Iran
President Barack Obama stood before the United Nations Assembly in late September and firmly stated, “Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained.” The international community faces one of its greatest security challenges as Iran moves closer to nuclear weapons capability.
Iran’s first nuclear facility, the Bushehr I reactor was opened on Sept. 12, 2011. In November 2011, the International Atomic Energy Agency detailed a report affirming that Iran had undertaken research and experiments geared toward developing a nuclear weapons capability. Further, Iran has repeatedly failed to allow IAEA inspectors to investigate its nuclear program, defying both the Non-Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement and international law. There is no doubt that Iran is seeking to attain a nuclear weapon.
The Iranian regime seeks to protect its repressive and violent rule by restricting freedom of speech and of the press. It suppresses all criticism of Islamic rule and subjects its political opponents to arbitrary and mass arrests, prolonged detentions, torture and executions. Moreover, Iran has become one of the world’s prime abusers of human rights. In Iran, gay rights, simply put, do not exist. Christianity and Judaism are subject to strict restrictions on freedom of practice. The Bahá’í religion, the largest minority faith, is outlawed and subject to harsh persecution. How can we allow a state that abuses its own citizens to attain the most dangerous weapons in the world?
Some political analysts have argued that Iran would not use its nuclear weapons because the United States or Israel would retaliate without fail causing an immediate irreversible escalation of hostilities resulting in both combatants’ mutual, total and assured destruction. However, in contrast to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, mutual assured destruction is not a deterrent for Iran. Iran’s eschatological ideology contends that a holy man will emerge in an apocalyptic holy war and usher in an age of a dominant radical Islam. This is an ardent conviction of the Iranian regime and elucidates their actions and policies. Furthermore, the Iranian government has made its purpose in obtaining nuclear capabilities clear. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has on more than one occasion expressed interest in wiping a UN state off the map. He has obliquely threatened our home declaring, “The time for the fall of the satanic power of the United States has come, and the countdown to the annihilation of the emperor of power and wealth has started.” The actions and statements of the Iranian regime demonstrate that allowing Iran to attain nuclear weapons is essentially a game of Russian roulette. A potentially lethal game of chance is not something we want to play on an international level.
What’s more, a nuclear Iran could contribute to a regional nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Arab states fear that nuclear weapons in Iranian hands will bolster Iranian power and influence in the region, and in turn, weaken their own. Already, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt have publicly announced plans to invest in its nuclear power industry. A nuclear arms race in one of the most volatile regions in the world is bad news for all. In addition, if Iran were to attain nuclear weapons, the proceeding unrest in the Middle East would cause gas prices to rise.
The question remains what actions must be taken to stop Iran. A military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be both costly and counterproductive. The military attack could potentially lead to a catastrophic war and would likely only double Iran’s efforts. Rather, the United States must firmly pursue economic sanctions against the Iranian regime.
Fortunately, the U.S. Senate passed S.J. Res 41, a U.S. policy to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability, on Sept. 22 by an overwhelming vote of 90-1. However, more concrete steps must be taken. The United States must immediately sanction any bank continuing to conduct significant transactions with Iranian banks, any companies working in Iran’s energy sector or providing Iran refined petroleum, and any shipping firms utilizing sanctioned ports under the control of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. The United States must also enforce sanctions targeting the Central Bank of Iran, and penalize any foreign financial institution conducting significant transactions with the CBI. Finally, the United States must also continue to press buyers of Iranian oil to look elsewhere for supplies. Perhaps, with the support of the American people, we can prevent the world’s most threatening regime from attaining the world’s most dangerous weapons.
Zev Newman is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.