News / USA

US Officials Say Iran Feeling Pinch of Economic Sanctions

Laurel Bowman

Obama administration officials told a Congressional panel Wednesday that economic sanctions against Iran are having an impact,  and the international community is cutting back on commercial ties with Iran.  Across town, another Obama official told a group of Iran experts that the U.S. still wants badly to engage with that nation.  Both events played out against a backdrop of leaked documents quoting Arab leaders as urging the U.S. to consider military action against Iran.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he's ready for talks next week with a European-led group that includes the U.S., China and Russia.

The parties meet Monday and Tuesday in Geneva, Switzerland, where they last met more than a year ago.  Iran's nuclear program is THE agenda, though Mr. Ahmadinejad has vowed not to budge on curbing his nation's nuclear program. Iran expert James Dobbins of the Rand Corporation says most Iranians back him.

"Polling indicates that the majority of them probably support nuclear weapons on the grounds that most of their neighbors have nuclear weapons," said Dobbins. "Pakistan has nuclear weapons, India has nuclear weapons//the United States has nuclear weapons and Russia does. So why would Iran, a major power in the region, be denied them?"

But even Iran's own neighbors are alarmed at its nuclear ambitions, as illustrated by published diplomatic cables of Arab leaders calling on the U.S. for military help in containing Iran.

Iran analyst Ellen Laipson:

"The fact of the leaks is not necessarily a bad thing," said Laipson. "It is part of the way Iran gets the message that within the region that they will look to the United States and outside to protect them.  Iran does not want us to have such a robust presence in the region."

Laipson calls for diplomacy over military action.

White House special adviser Dennis Ross agrees. He says President Obama has long sought direct talks with Iran.  
"If for 30 years you have someone else interpreting you to the Iranians and someone else interpreting the Iranians to you that is not going to be a prescription for trying to transform things so we wanted to use engagement to ensure that we could deal directly with the Iranians," said Ross.

Which takes us back to those talks in Switzerland. Again Ellen Laipson.

"The Iranians are perhaps hoping that if they appear to be very cooperative in the talks that the sanctions could be eased or lifted," she said.

Sanctions have hit Iran hard. Analysts say the country's economy is in tatters.

Stuart Levey is the Undersecretary of State for Financial Intelligence. He testified before Congress Wednesday.

"The cumulative effect of sanctions has been to increasingly isolate Iran from the international financial system," said Levey. "Iran is effectively unable to access financial services from reputable banks.  And it is finding it increasingly difficult to conduct major transactions in dollars or euros."

Experts say the sanctions have contributed to an aging energy infrastructure and a crippled financial sector.  Experts call it a middle economy whose stature cannot be ignored.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid