Iran Nuclear Talks Show U.S. Sanctions Are Taking a Toll

ByTracy Frydberg

This past weekend, as Passover and Easter were being celebrated around the world, Iranian leaders were alone in commemorating their own national holiday, Nuclear Technology Day. While Iran continues to aggressively pursue its nuclear program, the United States has partnered with the international community in taking strong preventive measures against Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It is crucial that these measures continue, as a nuclear capable Iran is not an option.

Iran is the greatest existential threat facing the U.S. and the Western world. Iranian leaders consistently reject the U.S. for being a liberal democracy. Referred to as the “devil incarnate” or a “satanic power” by Iranian leaders, the U.S. is perceived as a sinister threat and illegitimate authority from within the regime. There is no need to speculate how Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei intends to use his nuclear weapon capabilities. In a public address to Iranian officials, he stated, “It is natural that our Islamic system should be viewed as an enemy and an intolerable rival by such an oppressive power as the United States. It is also clear that the conflict and confrontation between [Iran and the United States] is something natural and unavoidable.”

Iranian leaders’ threats move far beyond sensational rhetoric. Iran is actively working towards spreading its influence throughout the world and has established a presence across the Middle East, North Africa, and recently, Europe and Latin America. Iranian terrorists have killed more Americans than any other terrorist network before 9/11, and Iran continues to arm terrorist and militant groups including Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Taliban. Iran maintains close ties with Al-Qaeda and was directly involved in assisting the terrorist group in carrying out the September 11 attacks. Iran will be able to transfer its nuclear capabilities to these terrorist organizations, leading to complete instability in the world.

Fortunately, there is bipartisan agreement within the U.S. on the need to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. In December, with an overwhelming majority in both the House and Senate, Congress symbolically passed legislation to further sanction Iran’s central bank. Within the international community, world leaders are also in agreement on the need to stop Iran. In a March interview, President Obama said, “Today, the world is as united as we've ever seen it around the need for Iran to take a different path on its nuclear program, and Iran is isolated and feeling the severe effects of the multiple sanctions that have been placed on it,” Obama said a nuclear capable Iran would set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and destabilize the world economy. “The possibilities of the sort of energy disruptions that we've never seen before occurring, and the world economy basically coming to a halt, would be pretty profound. So when I say this is in the U.S. interest, I'm not saying this is something we'd like to solve. I'm saying this is something we have to solve,” the president concluded.

A recent op-ed in the New York Times described a frightening scenario of what the world would look like with a nuclear capable Iran. “An Iranian atom bomb will force Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt to acquire their own atom bombs. Sooner or later, this unprecedented development will produce a nuclear event. An Iranian atom bomb will give radical Islam overwhelming influence. Once nuclear, the rising Shiite power will dominate Iraq, the Gulf, and international oil prices. It will spread terror, provoke conventional wars, and destabilize moderate Arab nations,” the op-ed explained. “The union of ultimate fundamentalism with the ultimate weapon will imbue the world we live in with a hellish undertone.” Regardless of Iran’s intent, if the regime becomes capable of producing nuclear weapons, it will set off an unprecedented nuclear arms race in the most volatile region in the world.

The international community is committed to ensuring that this scenario will never occur. The U.S. is working closely with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China to continue to pressure Iran. In addition to collectively sanctioning Iran’s central bank, these countries will meet with representatives from Iran in Turkey tomorrow for what Dennis Ross, the former advisor to President Obama, believes to be one of Iran’s last chances to settle its nuclear weapons program diplomatically.

Iran’s willingness to come to the table is a sign of the toll that the multilateral sanctions are taking on the country’s economy. However, such measures are only the first steps towards insuring that Iran will not be a threat to American interests. As the timeline for potential action and diplomacy continues to shrink, it is crucial that our world leaders remain vigilant in preventing Iran’s nuclear weapons program from progressing further as the results would be catastrophic.