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Sanctions Hurt Iranians Who Need Help

Posted by Jill Marie Parillo on August 6, 2009

The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009, or 'the Berman Bill,' after the original sponsor in the House of Representatives Howard Berman (D-CA), now has a place in the Senate (S.908) with support from 21 Senators. The Bill looks to push Iran into further isolation from the international community by cutting its oil and gas trade off. Isolating Iran will spur more illegal trade in Iran, increase the threat Iran perceives from the West and give the nation more of a reason to build a nuclear weapon as a security assurance.

This Act quotes President Obama when he was Senator stating that if the United States prevented Iran from "importing the gas they need and the refined petroleum products" we will be able to "squeeze" the nation, as well as work with with "Europe, Japan and the Gulf States to find every avenue outside the U.N. to isolate the Iranian regime." The authors also state that it is the "serious and urgent threat from Iran" that has provoked such action and all must be done "to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability."

It is just this type of action that will push Iran towards nuclear weapon state status. More sanctions push the dynamic of conflict forward, limiting future opportunities for the United States and Iran to move away from a disastrous military conflict. After sanctions fail again and the United States must threaten Iran with a military attack, the nation will likely build a bomb.

China will not go along with a "squeeze" of Iran, since it imports 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Iran and is now contracted to develop, in replace of France, Iran's South Pars natural gas field containing 8% of the world's total natural gas reserves. Russia will not go along with sanctions either, since supporting the hardliners in Iran ensures the United States never gains influence over a reformist government in Iran. Russia is happy to help Iran stifle another "color" revolution. Russia congratulated Ahmadinejad the day after his contested election, stopped further sanctions in September of last year at the UN Security Council and just started naval exercises with Iran in the Caspian Sea.

More specifically this bill would make it U.S. policy to:

  • Encourage governments to cease all investment in Iran's energy sector.
  • Impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran.
  • Expand the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996:
    • To include Iran's oil and gas trade and development.
    • Impose sanctions on anyone investing $20,000,000 in Iran's petroleum resources.
  • To have the President report every six months to Congress on all refined petroleum resources sold, leased or provided to Iran and anything else that has helped maintain or expand such resources.

The Berman Bill states, "the people of the United States have feelings of friendship for the people of Iran…and hold the people of Iran, their culture, and their ancient and rich history in the highest esteem." However, this bill will hurt those people. Billions of Iranian people in support of the reform movement have proven through street protests that they are willing to be injured, jailed or even killed in their pursuit of freedom and democracy. Further sanctions will not hurt the rich and powerful in Iran, but these people of Iran.


Tom Newman said ..

Cogent analysis! Since the US and other nuclear weapons states have very little credibility criticizing Iran's nuclear ambitions, what is needed is a grass-roots effort to call nuclear weapons what they are: immoral, illegal, hideous instruments of genocide. We need to make their possession a source of shame rather then prestige. We can start right here in the US.

August 9, 2009

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