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Today, July 1st, the European Union followed through on their complete embargo of Iranian oil.

http://www.nytimes.com/...

On Sunday, the European Union is putting in place a complete embargo of oil imports from Iran, which was the Continent’s sixth-biggest supplier of crude in 2011.

Three days ago, the United States imposed a new round of sanctions that could punish any foreign country that buys Iranian oil. However, it has issued six-month exemptions to 20 importers of Iranian oil who have significantly cut their purchases, including China, which has openly opposed the pressure on Iran.

Even before these steps, Iran conceded last week that its oil exports were down 20 to 30 percent. Its currency has plunged more than 40 percent against the dollar since last year. But so far the escalating sanctions, which the Bush administration started and the Obama administration has intensified, have failed in their central goal of forcing Iran’s mullahs to stop enriching uranium. Negotiations have stalled, though it is unclear whether this is a tactical move by Iran or a collapse of the latest diplomatic effort.

As well, the EU is set to remove insurance for all tankers carrying Iranian oil.  This alone has had the effect of perhaps adding South Korea and other nations to the oil embargo against Iran.

Notably, the Obama administration and allied powers have implemented these sanctions in a way that has not resulted in a rise in gas prices, as other suppliers including post-Gaddafi Libya have boosted production.

Unlike Iraq or Libya or North Korea...Iran is not a third-world country carved out of a map by war and colonialism.  Where sanctions often only help a dictator hang on for years and years.  It is an industrialized nation with a comparatively high standard of living.  There is national pride at stake and apparently, many Iranians blame their own leaders for their economic mess.

http://www.nytimes.com/...

In Tabriz, in the west, I chatted with the owner of a store selling Nike, Adidas and Saucony sneakers, hugely prized as status symbols. If a young man wants to find a girlfriend, the shop owner explained, the best bet is to wear Nikes.

But sales have dropped by two-thirds in the last year, he fretted. He added in disgust that some Iranians are in such penury that they attend parties wearing Chinese-made, fake Nikes.

In March, Iran was pushed out of Swift, a banking network for international payments, so the businessman now pays for his imports through the traditional hawala system. That’s an unofficial global network of money-traders. You lug a briefcase of cash to a hawala office in an Iranian bazaar and then ask for it to be made available in Beijing or Los Angeles. This is more expensive and less reliable than a bank transfer, but it’s now the main alternative.

“We are finding a loophole around sanctions,” a hawala trader told me. “The Iranian nation has no other option.”

Economic frustration is compounded because President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been lifting subsidies for everything from bread to gasoline — probably sound economic policy, but very unpopular.

Western sanctions have succeeded in another way: Most blame for economic distress is directed at Iran’s own leaders, and discontent appears to be growing with the entire political system. I continually ran into Iranians who were much angrier at their leaders on account of rising prices than on account of the imprisonment of dissidents or Bahais.

“We can’t do business as we used to, and our quality of life is getting worse,” one man, who lost his job as a salesman, said forlornly. “We blame our regime, not Western countries.”

Meanwhile Iran's sole ally in the Middle East, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, is similarly crumbling under intensive sanctions and popular uprising.

Three years ago, in June 2009, we saw a glimmer of change in Iran.  Hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets and squares to demand their democratic rights.  Braving beatings, snipers, and arrest in the dead of night.

With any luck, we'll see it again soon.  Or at least fear of a 'Persian Spring' will persuade the powers that be in Iran to deal in good faith on their nuclear program.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    Follow Me on Twitter! https://twitter.com/#!/TarantinoDork

    by TarantinoDork on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:00:58 AM PDT

  •  Right. (10+ / 0-)
    U.S. Exempts Singapore and China on Iran Oil

    Acting at the last minute, the Obama administration on Thursday spared China and Singapore from potentially onerous financial penalties required under a strict American law on Iran sanctions, saying that both countries had earned an exemption by significantly reducing their purchases of Iranian crude oil.

    The American waiver granted to China, Iran’s top customer of oil, was regarded as especially significant because it averted a potentially serious collision between China and the United States, which are both members of the group of six big powers that are negotiating with Iran in the nuclear dispute. Under the American law, banks of countries that are Iranian oil importers can be denied access to the American banking system.

    India, of course, trades gold to Iran for oil.

    The nuclear canard is just that. A ridiculous false flag that will lead to a shooting war before the November elections. One that the US will lose -- as it does all of its wars.

    The object of the game is to prevent Iran from working around  the petro-dollar on its oil bourse -- the way Saddam and Gaddafi were stopped in their tracks months after attempting to do so.

    The petro-dollar is dead. There's not a central banker in the world who does not know this


    Reality: "The world doesn't work that way."
    Pluto: "So? Change the world."

    by Pluto on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:12:19 AM PDT

    •  Supply and Demand (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, limpidglass, codairem, mookins

      We get a two'fer out of this decision too.  With the EU (and countries following the insurance embargo) cutting off oil imports from Iran, the Chinese are in a much better bargaining position with Iran vis-a-vis Iranian oil prices.  We just lowered the Chinese cost of energy so that they can "compete" more effectively (read: establish monopoly pricing power) in the global markets.  I'm sure we'll hear loud noises of protest coming out of the right-wing on this one soon.

      "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

      by PrahaPartizan on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:17:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mookins, blueness

        Russia is a happy camper, as well.

        Geopolitically speaking, there is not a country in the world, including the EU, who is not playing along on the global marginalization of the US to neutralize its aggressive threat to world peace.


        Reality: "The world doesn't work that way."
        Pluto: "So? Change the world."

        by Pluto on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:20:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The premise of this diary is that it is Iran who (7+ / 0-)

      … is not bargaining in good faith — there are several valid lines of argument (easily found on the Web; I won't rehash them here) why actually the reverse is true.

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

      by lotlizard on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:26:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That shooting war has been promised for years now (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mookins, FG

      It's just another Friedman Unit or two away.

    •  The US is backing the TAPI pipeline against the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mookins, protectspice

      IP pipeline and has been since the Clinton years. In fact, one of the reasons for taking out the Taliban was that they didn't play the US multinational oil companies game. BTW, the Israeli's also have extensive interests in the Turkmenistan gas/oil fields and would like to export w/o going through Russia.

      TAPI as part of the Sanctions Policy on Iran.

      'With Pakistan’s energy crisis becoming ever more grave, the need for power has never been more acute. It was heartening, then, that the president insisted that Pakistan would go ahead with both the Iran gas pipeline and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline. As welcome as these words are, there is every chance that they will collide with the immovable forces of superpower politics and the threat of militancy. Of the two proposed pipeline projects, the Iran gas pipeline is by far the more viable option. It is more affordable than the TAPI pipeline and also faces less threat of being blown up by extremists.
      ...
      'The Iran pipeline, on the other hand, faces the equally deadly American veto. The US, through Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has already floated the threat of sanctions should Pakistan go through with the proposal.

  •  Iran is considered a third world country (5+ / 0-)

    At least in terms of press freedom:

    http://www.nationsonline.org/...

    And sanctions may indeed make Iran into a third world country if you think it is not already:

    Vered Yitzchaki, Director-General of Prico Risk Management said, Friday, that the sanctions announced by the SWIFT financial clearing house on Iran banks, Thursday, will turn the Islamic Republic into a third-world country.
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/...
    More importantly US spy agencies see no move by Iran to build a bomb:
    Even as the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said in a new report Friday that Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program, American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.
    http://www.nytimes.com/...
    There is a fatwa against nuclear weapons in Iran by the Ayatollah:
    The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued the Fatwa that the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islam and that the Islamic Republic of Iran shall never acquire these weapons.”
    http://www.juancole.com/...
    •  By the same token (0+ / 0-)

      ...it is folly to believe that Iran does not already possess nuclear warheads that it has received via a technology transfer from its allies a long time ago.

      There's not an intelligence agency in the world that does not factor this "wildcard" in when they run their scenarios.


      Reality: "The world doesn't work that way."
      Pluto: "So? Change the world."

      by Pluto on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:38:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Burden of proof is on your shoulders (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Yastreblyansky, Monteego

        If you believe Iran possesses nuclear warheads, you must prove it. You did not do so in the above comment. Or are you just assuming without tangible, concrete and empirical evidence?

        •  This is waaaaay over your head. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blueness

          ::: woosh! :::

          There's not an intelligence agency in the world that does not factor this "wildcard" in when they run their scenarios.
          This is not your grandaddy's nuance.


          Reality: "The world doesn't work that way."
          Pluto: "So? Change the world."

          by Pluto on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 10:23:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ah...intelligence agencies say the contrary (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Monteego, Quicklund, mookins

            I just cited U.S. intelligence network. Here it is again:

            Even as the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said in a new report Friday that Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program, American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.
            http://www.nytimes.com/.
            ..

            They may run the scenario as you point out, but it looks like they don't believe in it and have discredited the scenario  (of Iran possessing nuclear bombs) from the above quote.

            •  Again: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              blueness
              There's not an intelligence agency in the world that does not factor this "wildcard" in when they run their scenarios.


              Reality: "The world doesn't work that way."
              Pluto: "So? Change the world."

              by Pluto on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 10:40:51 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  We all bow down to your infinite knowledge (0+ / 0-)

                Americans all suck.  We're all idiots.  Obviously there are no bad guys in the world who want nuclear weapons.

                Follow Me on Twitter! https://twitter.com/#!/TarantinoDork

                by TarantinoDork on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 10:54:11 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I listen to American intelligence agencies rather (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  mookins

                  than you. I heed the words of Secretary of Defense Panetta who says:

                  Appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday, Panetta admitted that despite all the rhetoric, Iran is not pursuing the ability to split atoms with weapons, saying it is instead pursuing “a nuclear capability.”
                  That “capability” falls in line with what Iran has said for years: that it is developing nuclear energy facilities, not nuclear weapons.
                  http://www.rawstory.com/
                  So in the choice between U.S. intelligence, which is one of the finest in the world and you, a person whose qualifications on international affairs and the Iranian nuclear program, I know nothing about...the choice is pretty obvious.
                  •  My comment is aimed at Pluto, not you (0+ / 0-)

                    I'm inclined to agree with Panetta is not actively pursuing a nuclear bomb at this exact moment.  

                    But what they are doing (among other things, hiding the construction of an underground nuclear facility at an old Revolutionary Guard base in Qom, only disclosing it months after confronted by the US & allies powers) puts them in violation of their obligations with the Non-Proliferation Treaty they are party to.

                    For that there has to be consequences and sanctions are the appropriate measure.

                    Follow Me on Twitter! https://twitter.com/#!/TarantinoDork

                    by TarantinoDork on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 11:11:58 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Iran did not violate NPT. That word was never used (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      mookins

                      by IAEA

                      Even in censure, IAEA doesn't say Iran 'violated' NPT

                      The November censure also said that Iran's new plant was “in breach” of Iran’s “obligation to suspend all enrichment activities,” and the tardy declaration “inconsistent with its obligations” under Iran’s updated NPT Safeguard Agreement.

                      The two-page document does not use the word “violate.” Neither does that word appear in the 10 pages of the IAEA’s latest quarterly report on Iran from February.
                      http://www.csmonitor.com/...(page)/2

                      •  Okay, so they didn't do what they were supposed to (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        mookins

                        In regards to a secretive underground nuclear installation on an old military base that they only admitted to building it AFTER they were called on it.

                        Not to mention that oh yeah, the centrifuges they use were acquired via the AQ Khan network...the criminal ring that built up nuclear weapons programs in Pakistan, North Korea, and Libya.

                        Yeah, they're acting in good faith.

                        Follow Me on Twitter! https://twitter.com/#!/TarantinoDork

                        by TarantinoDork on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 11:33:51 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  They may not be in good faith. However that's (0+ / 0-)

                          not what you said in regards to what I was responding to. Let's revisit your comment shall we?

                          puts them in violation of their obligations with the Non-Proliferation Treaty they are party to.
                          IAEA says they did not violate NPT.
                          •  How that doesn't constitute a violation (0+ / 0-)

                            Is a bit mystifying to me.  Buying centrifuges off of the world's worst black market nuclear weapons proliferator, and hiding from the world an enrichment facility built on a military facility.

                            Your article does say that Iran's actions put them in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

                            Again, I don't support an attack on Iran unless there is hard, corroborated intelligence that they are building nuclear weapons.

                            But what they are doing is more than worthy of the sanctions regime put in place.  And I have better hopes than I usually have about sanctions that this will have the desired effect.

                            Follow Me on Twitter! https://twitter.com/#!/TarantinoDork

                            by TarantinoDork on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 12:01:58 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  One correction I should make for accuracy (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            TarantinoDork

                            Instead of saying: IAEA says they did not violate NPT, I should say: IAEA didn't say they violated NPT. The latter is accurate.

                •  I think you have a synaptic problem (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  blueness

                  ...this morning.

                  Obviously there are no bad guys in the world who want nuclear weapons.
                  This thread is discussing "bad guys" who may already have nuclear weapons in their possession.


                  Reality: "The world doesn't work that way."
                  Pluto: "So? Change the world."

                  by Pluto on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 11:08:44 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  And that's more a loaded term than a nuanced one (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            codairem, Shawn Russell

            General Staffs wargame a huge variety of scenarios. That a nuclear-armed Iran has been wargamed does not prove a nuclear-armed Iran exists today.

        •  There are rumors Iran has up to 4 devices (0+ / 0-)

          Somewhen somewhere I saw a summary that speculated Iran might have up to four nuclear devices, including a couple Soviet warheards. The article I read made it clear the author was speculating not making firm claims. That said I am sure national intel agencies have run evaluations of their own as to the validity of these speculations.

    •  Today there is a fatwa against it, tomorrow he (0+ / 0-)

      will issue the one for it. He's free to do whatever he wants with fatwas.

  •  Sanctions hurt innocent people. These sanctions (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shawn Russell, Pluto, protectspice

    are crimes against humanity.  With any luck, western citizens will rise up and protest these abominable actions.

    "The Global War on Terror is a justification for U.S. Imperialism. It must be stopped."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 09:35:35 AM PDT

  •  OK, that was funny (4+ / 0-)
    But sales have dropped by two-thirds in the last year, he fretted. He added in disgust that some Iranians are in such penury that they attend parties wearing Chinese-made, fake Nikes.
    My god, they've fallen almost to our level!

    Romney '12: Bully for America!

    by Rich in PA on Sun Jul 01, 2012 at 10:38:01 AM PDT

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