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Turkey and India Tighten Iranian Noose

The noose around the neck of the Iranian economy is getting tighter. Two more countries, Turkey and India, are preparing to cut their imports from Iran. Turkey appears set to cut imports by 10 to 20 percent, while India may cut imports by as much as 25 percent. As the second and fifth biggest importers of Iranian crude, respectively, join the other major importers in cutting back purchases, Iran may see exports fall to half the normal level when the new sanctions kick in later this year.

Not all of these cutbacks are due to U.S. pressure. China has dropped its Iranian imports largely for economic reasons, and New Delhi has reaffirmed that it is not obligated to reduce its imports, although it appears that it is privately asking oil refineries to cut their imports by 15 percent.

But whatever the reasons for the reductions, Iran is now in a bind. Popular support for the government, and even for the nuclear program itself, appears to be falling, and the oil sanctions and accompanying economic slowdown will only exacerbate this trend. So far Iran has managed to weather this crisis without any major disruptions, but things will begin to get much trickier for Teheran once sanctions kick in at full force.

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