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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid