Sanctions? What Sanctions? — Judith Levy


Iran’s ever-cheerful President Hassan Rouhani, together with Supreme Leader Ali Khameini, held a public ceremony yesterday at which they set fire to an oversized mockup of the Interim Joint Plan of Action and then stomped on the ashes in hobnailed boots. They didn’t, actually. But they might as well.

Omri Ceren of The Israel Project reports:

Iran is reportedly set to bust through oil sale caps set by the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA) for the sixth straight month, according to a report published late Tuesday by Reuters assessing that the Islamic republic will have managed to send abroad an average of 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude exports in April.

The JPA permits Iran only 1 million bpd’s, a level that Tehran has thus far exceeded every single month since the announcement of the deal. Reuters wrote up the April numbers under the headline “Iran’s oil exports fall in April, closer to Western limits,” a gesture toward administration assurances that Iranian energy exports will very shortly crash to such a degree that – by the end of the JPA’s six-month negotiating period – the average figure for exports will indeed converge on Iran’s permitted limits.

Observers have expressed skepticism that the White House will have robust diplomatic options should those predictions prove over-optimistic, and have worried that in the meantime Western negotiating leverage is steadily eroding as Iran’s economy improves and it reestablishes trade channels to outside markets.

And who might be the most immediate beneficiary of all this, aside from the Iranian theocracy itself? Anyone?

Iran held talks with Russia over $10 billion worth of in electricity deals on Sunday, in the latest deals, in a new attempt by Moscow to leverage a privileged relationship its close ties with Tehran.

Russia is already in talks with Iran to swap its food and other goods for Iranian oil. The move is seen by some as a Russian attempt to take positions in Iran’s vast market when it opens up and assert its international clout amid increased Tehran’s tensions with the West.

In a statement posted on its website, Iran’s energy ministry Iran’s energy ministry said Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian met his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak in Tehran on Sunday to discuss $10 billion worth of discuss the power deals. They included the construction of hydroelectric power plants and, according to the Mehr news agency, the possibility of Russia exporting 500 megawatts of electricity to Iran.

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are raising eyebrows at these developments:

The Obama administration’s strategy of punishing Russia with economic sanctions over the Ukraine crisis encountered a new complication on Monday with word that the Russians are negotiating an $8 billion to $10 billion energy deal with Iran, another country ostracized by American-led sanctions, which partly depend on Moscow’s cooperation to be effective.

The Russia-Iran energy deal, reported by the Iranian state news media, is the second significant economic collaboration under negotiation between the two countries that could undercut the efficacy of the sanctions on Iran. Those sanctions are widely credited with successfully pressuring the Iranians in the current talks over their disputed nuclear program.

The first such collaboration, you’ll recall, was the “sanctions-busting $20 billion oil-for-goods deal” of a few weeks back. So much for consequences of infraction of the terms of the JPA.

It’s entirely conceivable that this pitiful excuse for a slap on the wrist doled out to a vile extremist regime will result in an accelerated arms race here in the Middle East. Indeed, it’s likely that it already has. So much for a benevolent withdrawal from the world stage. Add that one to the legacy, Mr. President.

Photo of Ali Khameini and Hassan Rouhani by EPA, via Russian Council.

There are 9 comments.

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  1. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane

    Re: “So much for a benevolent withdrawal from the world stage.”

    Here’s another sign of the region going to hell in a handbasket – Saudi ballistic missile waving:

    Notice the second city listed therein: “In 2013, a satellite photo of a Saudi missile base showed launch pads that pointed at two cites – Tehran and Tel Aviv – but the intended recipient of Saudi Arabia’s missile warnings is Iran, Inbar said.”

    This will be Obama’s legacy: a nuclearized Middle East.  You’ve heard of the “Great Man” theory of history: “The Great Man theory is a 19th-century idea according to which history can be largely explained by the impact of “great men”, or heroes: highly influential individuals who, due to either their personal charisma,intelligencewisdom, or political skill utilized their power in a way that had a decisive historical impact.”

    Well, there should be a companion, mirror concept of “The Little Man theory” of history to go with the first…

    • #1
  2. user_240173 Contributor

    We have 2 and half more years of this unfortunately.

    • #2
  3. user_82762 Inactive


    This is why Benghazi is so important.  This Administration has an F in foreign policy.  Benghazi would have revealed that to the American people in an unmistakable way.  Romney would be in the White House right now.

    The Middle East is spinning out of control and Putin hasn’t been stopped and will not be stopped with just sanctions & threats.  The Russian deal with Iran plus China’s  increasing expression of militancy requires a complete reset of the whole BHO foreign policy and its coordinate defense requirements.

    The current policy is a criminally negligent foreign policy.



    • #3
  4. Judith Levy, Ed. Contributor
    Judith Levy, Ed.

    James Gawron: Judith, This is why Benghazi is so important. 

    I agree completely, James. The question is how to get the American people to care.

    • #4
  5. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo

    Judith Levy, Ed.:

    I agree completely, James. The question is how to get the American people to care.

     Tell them this is the Republicans support.

    • #5
  6. Zafar Member

    How would Romney have stopped any of this?

    • #6
  7. ParisParamus Member

    Zafar, I think Romney would have attacked Iran by now.

    Ms. Levy, what I really want to know is how you think this ends.  I’m finding it very hard to see how it doesn’t end with a radioactive Tel Aviv and many dead.  I’m not sure how Israelis remain as cool as they do.

    • #7
  8. flownover Inactive

    Hobnailed boots ? Ha !
    More like silken slippers with curled toes and golden tassels . These are the shoes the devil will be wearing when he shows .

    Oh Israel, it’s time to torch their closets and keep the world from seeing the silken shoes and the golden chains and the 12th imam.

    Boom chaka laka boom chaka laka
    They need to assume the world position on the US support. In other words, nevermind . 

    Isn’t it incredible that this crew has turned Yasir Arafat into a carnival ride that ends up in Qom ? 

    astoundingly depressing that our government never recognized the source of all the IED that killed 80% of our troops in JCCIA

    • #8
  9. user_333118 Inactive


    Zafar, I think Romney would have attacked Iran by now.

    Ms. Levy, what I really want to know is how you think this ends. I’m finding it very hard to see how it doesn’t end with a radioactive Tel Aviv and many dead. I’m not sure how Israelis remain as cool as they do.

    I would like to know that, too.  Is the Israeli government united in how to deal with this threat to the country’s very existence?

    • #9

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