The Obama Administration’s war on Iran has relied heavily on wide-ranging sanctions that score points in some places even as they lose ground elsewhere. So far, many of Iran’s biggest oil customers, like Japan and South Korea, have pledged to reduce their reliance on Persian oil, but others, like India and South Africa, have gone back and forth, alternately rebuffing and acquiescing to American pressure.(South Africa, for instance, imported no Iranian oil in February but doubled its imports in March. Also in March, India said it would ignore American sanctions and only abide by UN ones, then sent an 80-member trade delegation to Tehran; but this week, under increased U.S. pressure and amid difficulties transporting and insuring Iranian oil, India said its top two oil companies would slow imports from Iran by “at least 15 percent.”)The result? WSJ: “Iran’s oil output has reached its lowest level in 20 years, independent data showed Wednesday.” Reuters: “Iran said on Wednesday it was seeking an end to Western sanctions over its arms programme during talks with world powers.” Israel’s chief military officer: “I don’t think (Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei) will want to go the extra mile [i.e. build a nuclear weapon]. I think the Iranian leadership is composed of very rational people.” Iran’s Fars News: “A senior advisor to the Iranian Supreme Leader expressed the hope that the positive trend of talks between Tehran and the six world powers in Istanbul would continue in Baghdad, and stressed that removal of the sanctions against Iran should be the least result of the upcoming round of negotiations.”After a scary early spring, when some Israeli officials gave strong hints that a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities was close at hand, the rhetoric on all sides has grown more conciliatory.Even though Iran has flip-flopped before, and even though some of Israel’s most important officials, like Prime Minister Netanyahu, believe diplomacy and sanctions have done nothing to stop Iran, Via Meadia sees promising signs in the tea leaves.Today, anyway. We’ll see about tomorrow.
A Tumultuous Game of Sanctions
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