News / Middle East

Tensions Rise as Iran is Hurt by Western Sanctions

Meredith Buel

Tensions between Western countries and Iran over its nuclear program continue to rise as sanctions threaten the country’s economy.  Analysts are expressing concern a military confrontation could occur in the Middle East.

Iranian war games in the Persian Gulf amid threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz.  The United States and Europe tighten sanctions to choke off Iranian oil revenues.  Iran begins enriching uranium at an underground plant, as one of its nuclear scientists is killed in a bomb attack.

All signs, analysts say, that a military confrontation could be looming.

International Institute of Strategic Studies expert Mark Fitzpatrick. “I think Iran is feeling under increasing pressure.  It is feeling, probably for the first time, sanctions that do have a real bite," he said.

Iranian analysts say a possible oil embargo is essentially a declaration of war, and for the government to survive it will fight back.

Sadegh Zibakalam of Tehran University said, “The only natural weapon that Iran has is to block the Strait of Hormuz.”

U.S. military and diplomatic officials have warned that Iran will not be allowed to block the strait.  Patrick Clawson of The Washington Institute said, “And if they were to do that, I do not know if they quite realize that they would be crossing an American red line and that there would be military conflict.”

The United States has been pressing allies in Asia to reduce the amount of oil imported from Iran, and President Barack Obama recently approved tough sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank to pressure Tehran to abandon its nuclear program.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said, “And we are exploring ways to cut off the central bank from the international financial system and to reduce the earnings Iran derives from its oil exports.”

As a result, prices are up in Iranian markets as inflation has skyrocketed.  Iran's currency is rapidly losing value.

The pressure is mounting, says analyst Patrick Clawson. “Iran is finding itself in a much more difficult situation than when just the Americans were applying the pressure," he said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says there is evidence Iran is researching the development and delivery of nuclear weapons.  But Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Iran has signaled it is willing to reopen negotiations with Western powers, but analysts say all the heated rhetoric could poison diplomatic efforts.

Jamal Abdi of the National Iranian American Council said, “I see the sabre rattling as reducing the space necessary on both sides to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.”

Iran’s nuclear program is expected to be the topic of a new round of talks between Tehran and Western nations in the coming months.  Meanwhile, tensions intensify as sanctions continue to squeeze Iran’s economy.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs