Iran Sanctions Are Crushing the Iranian People, Not the Regime

ByAmira Asad

It is no surprise that the U.S.-led sanctions imposed on Iran are quickly crippling its economy, and along with it the livelihoods of Iranians..

The U.S. and EU believe Iran is aiming to build nuclear weapons, saying the sanctions are designed to punish the Iranian government in hopes that it will comply with international rules over their nuclear program.

But with soaring prices for basic needs such as food and medicine, and a lack of medical supplies — this has quickly turned from a punishment of the regime into a punishment of its citizens. These tough restrictions on Iran’s access to international banking have made it difficult to pay for the necessary imported medicines and equipment.

Although medicine and humanitarian supplies aren’t part of the economic embargo on Iran, prices for some imported medicines and supplies have nearly doubled as the currency has tanked. The rial has lost more than 80% of its value due to the Western-imposed sanctions introduced in 2011.

Ill civilians are the unfortunate ones paying the price with the cost of a round of chemotherapy more than doubling since last year at $65,000 compared to $25,000. The cost of an imported wheelchair is now 10 times more than it was in 2011.

Western sanctions have resulted in a limited amount of basic supplies to pharmacies and hospitals, resulting in black market pharmaceutical peddling as a more affordable option.

Although medicine and humanitarian supplies aren’t part of the economic embargo on Iran, the unaffordable prices are a simple example of the domino effect of sanctions on everyday life.

The price of food has also been affected by the sanctions, with fruit and sugar costs nearly tripling in some cases. The price of chicken doubled from 2011 to 2012, resulting in demonstrations last summer.

Iran’s oil industry, responsible for close to 80% of foreign revenue, has been economically struck the hardest under these international sanctions.

Iran’s oil sales have plummeted nearly 40% in the last nine months due to the sanctions.Oil exports have fallen by more than half — from 2.4 million barrels per day toward the end of 2011, to just 1 million barrels per day at the end of last year.

In some cases, Iran has been unable to continue selling fuel to airlines over unpaid bills and airlines have been forced to cancel their flights.

The sanctions introduced by the U.S. prohibit nearly all trade with Iran, forbidding trade in Iranian oil or petroleum products and also banning any new financial interactions with Iran by American companies. The EU has banned most financial transactions with Iran, the purchase of oil from Iran, and other trade within the industries of finance, metals, and natural gas.

The EU has made transactions between European and Iranian banks merely impossible with the harsh sanctions imposed, only possible if authorized in advance under strict conditions — with the exception of humanitarian needs. There is also a UN embargo on weapon exports and nuclear technology.

Taken together, the effects of the sanctions have been harshest on the very people U.S. officials say are suffering from oppression by the Iranian regime.

Now the Iranian people must suffer under two dictatorships instead of one.