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Waging economic war against Iran

Stephen Beard May 29, 2006


SCOTT JAGOW: The United Nations and the United States also have their hands full with Iran. Several U.N. members plan to offer Iran a deal this week: Stop enriching uranium and you’ll be rewarded, keep doing it and you’ll be punished. So far, Iran is thumbing its nose, insisting it has the right to nuclear “technology.” The Bush Administration believes that’s code for nuclear “bomb.” So the US might gather a few allies and, according to the Washington Post, launch an all-out financial assault on Iran.From our European Desk in London, here’s Stephen Beard.

STEPHEN BEARD: The idea is this: if diplomacy fails, let money do the talking. If Iran continues enriching uranium, the US, Europe and Japan should jointly impose economic sanctions against the country, freeze Iranian government accounts held abroad, seize the personal assets of key figures in the Iranian regime.

But there’s a problem, says George Joffe of Cambridge University. The Iranians already switched most of their assets away from Europe to Asia he says. And most Asian governments won’t go along with the plan.

GEORGE JOFFE: Japan is heavily dependent on access to energy from the Gulf and particularly from Iran. The same is true of South Korea. And therefore I doubt whether either government will be very anxious to support the United States in this endeavor.

But US officials quoted by the Washington Post say multinational economic sanctions persuaded Libya to give up its nuclear program. They could do the same with Iran.

In London this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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