The US managed to pass the resolution almost unanimously, and more importantly, elicit the support of both Russia and China, which thus far traditionally resisted harsher sanctions against Iran.
It wasn’t simple: The US invested immense diplomatic efforts since the end of December 2009 and up until a few minutes before Wednesday’s vote. The effort succeeded despite the diplomatic backing elicited by Iran from Brazil and Turkey after Tehran agreed to enrich its uranium outside its territory.
The Chinese delegation to the UN, controlled by aggressive Foreign Minister Yang, indeed introduced many changes to the draft decision and minimized the scope of the sanctions. However, we should note that it was the very same Yang who in February declared that China will not agree to any new sanctions of any type.
Here in Israel there is a tendency to belittle, at least publically, the effect of the sanctions on Iran. The new sanctions are said to be far from being “paralyzing,” to use the term utilized by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Yet this statement is only partially true.
The sanctions imposed on Iran thus far, and the new moves imposed Wednesday, have a significant tactical effect on Iran’s defense establishment, military industries, intelligence community, and nuclear program. These sanctions focus directly on these elements. They attempt to undermine Iran’s ability to purchase equipment aboard, including raw materials, technological systems, and weapons.
Sanctions won’t hurt regime
These sanctions hurt the economic mechanisms that fund the activity of the Revolutionary Guards, and undermine the ability of Iranian purchasers abroad to acquire technology and know-how for the nuclear program. The sanctions are also meant to harm several companies at the forefront of Iran’s nuke program. The moves aim is to deprive Iran of the ability to purchase all sorts of combat systems.
In addition, the sanctions are meant to limit the movement of dozens of people connected to the Iranian nuclear program. The intention here is to show those figures that if they continue assisting the nuclear development project, not only official Iranian institutions may be punished, but individuals too.
The bad news is that all of this will apparently not change Iran’s determination to work towards a bomb. On the strategic level, the sanctions will only undermine the Ayatollah regime’s strength to a small extent, if at all. Most experts who monitor events in Iran believe that the regime will draw back from the race for nukes only if it feels that its very existence is hanging on the balance.
According to this doctrine, the Iranian regime is developing nuclear weapons as an insurance policy aimed at ensuring its survival and preventing American and Israeli attacks.
Only sanctions that will severely undermine the Iranian economy and cause distress to the Iranian people may make the regime feel its future is in danger, and prompt it to reconsider the whole idea. Yet the sanctions imposed on Tehran Wednesday are not like that.