US sanctions on Iran are only causing innocent Iranians to suffer

The US has imposed crippling sanctions on Iran because of what it calls “illicit nuclear activities”. The principal objective is to compel Iran to confine its nuclear program to peaceful use. The US and Israel view its enriching of uranium as a potential threat to stability in the Middle East and global energy supplies. Nevertheless, these sanctions have had no affect on the regime, but have caused mass suffering and even death for the people of Iran.

Israel lobbies Congress for strong sanctions on Iran

Kate Gould in her article “Senators Open Back Door for War with Iran”, writes that earlier this month there was a bipartisan resolution, nicknamed the “Back Door to War” proposed by Senators Lindsey Graham and Robert Menendez. AIPAC, the pro-Israeli lobby, lobbied every senator to support the back door resolution and also to start a new round of sanctions against Iran. It also called on the House and Senate to shield military aid to Israel from the sequester’s cuts. Although this resolution is non-binding so it cannot become law, Senator Graham said it could be a stepping-stone for authorization of US force against Iran. There is a provision that urges for the US government to stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military, and economic support if Israel is compelled to take military action in its defense.

Although Israel and many politicians are calling for more sanctions against Iran, Iran has been under sanctions for more than twenty years and still remains defiant. The Iranian-American journalist Hooman Majd wrote in the New York Times article, “Starving Iran Won’t Free It”, that the sanctions against Iran are turning into collective punishment and are unlikely to work. He states, “Iranians will neither blame their own government for the effects of sanctions simply because we tell them to, nor will they overthrow the ayatollahs, however much we prod them to.”

American sanctions do not affect the regime, they mostly cause civilians to suffer

Glenn Greenwald writes in The Guardian that since sanctions are not having any effect on Iran’s regime, it is the Iranian people who are paying the price. Since the sanctions, there has been unemployment, inflation, medicine shortages, and even reports of food riots. These medicine and food shortages have caused many Iranians to die. Disgustingly, sanctions are designed to cause mass human suffering. A Democratic representative stated that sanctions to hurt the Iranian people are needed (how unsympathetic). To show you that the US government does not mind killing people with sanctions, even if they’re kids, former Democratic Secretary of State Madeline Albright stated when asked if the 500,000 Iraqi children killed from sanctions was worth it, ‘I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.’ These were the same sanctions that caused a UN official to resign in protest saying that the sanctions were genocide. It is the people who pay the price of their leaders’ actions. Just as the Iran sanctions are not deterring its leaders, the sanctions on Iraq did nothing to Saddam Hussein.

In Foreign Policy Magazine Mohammad Sadeghi Esfahlani and Jamal Abdi wrote that sanctions destroy the urban middle class that has played a central role in creating change and promoting progress. Sanctions, isolation and economic punishment only undermine democracy in Iran. If middle class Iranians are struggling financially then they are not able to struggle for political freedoms.

Instead of being ashamed that our country does such things US leaders are congratulated for proving they are being tough on Iran and showing loyalty to Israel. Our sanctions and what they do to other people aren’t even acknowledged. Sure the sanctions are mentioned, but not their consequences of human suffering and death.

While Israel complains about Iran, it does not let the IAEA inspect its own Nuclear Program

As Liberation Magazine pointedly asks, “Why should the Iranian people suffer and die for nuclear weapons that, by all accounts Iran currently does not have, while Israel, which actually has hundreds of nuclear warheads, is not subjected to any punishment whatsoever?” They point out, “There is no evidence supporting this accusation despite ongoing inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).” Is it not hypocritical of the US and Israel who are heavily armed with nuclear weapons to threaten Iran?

CBS News DC writes that the United Nations wants Israel to allow inspection of its nuclear program. The UN General Assembly voted 174-6, with six abstentions, for Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and to open its nuclear facilities to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Along with Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea have also refused to join the treaty.

According to BBC News Iran has stated that its plans for enrichment are for purely peaceful purposes. The IAEA has expressed concern about Iran’s nuclear program though, because some of Iran’s activities can only be used to develop nuclear weapons, but it did not say that Iran had mastered the process or how long it would take to make a bomb. They cited Iran’s testing of explosives and work on weaponization. The UN Security Council wants it to stop enrichment until Iran’s peaceful intentions can be established.

Iran justifies its refusal to obey the UN Security Council resolutions because under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, a signatory state has the right to enrich uranium. The state only has to remain under inspection by the IAEA, which Iran is. Iran says that it intends to enrich uranium only for power station fuel and that the UN resolutions are politically motivated. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has stated, ‘We fundamentally reject nuclear weapons.’

Do as I say, not as I do

The bottom line is that unlike the US and Israel, Iran has no nuclear weapons. These sanctions are punishing them for nuclear weapons they don’t even have yet. They have broken no laws and have done nothing criminal, so US politicians and pro-Israeli lobbyists should slow their roles before they get us into another war. It is Iran’s right to enrich uranium because they are signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran allows the IAEA to inspect its program, while Israel does not. What this shows is that the US and Israel expect other countries to follow international treaties while exempting themselves. It is okay for them to have nuclear weapons, but not Iran. What is worse is that President Obama, the media and many politicians discuss the sanctions on Iran without discussing the excessive harm that it does to innocent civilians, and the fact that they are not working. While I do not support Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I do support innocent Iranians. How do we explain to Iranians the suffering we are causing them? I find sanctions aimed at innocent people to get at their government cowardly. The US and Israel are displaying a gross double-standard and I understand why Iran remains defiant–they haven’t done anything. Glenn Greenwald asks a brilliant question: “If ‘terrorism’ means the use of violence aimed at civilians in order to induce political change from their government, what is it called when intense economic suffering is imposed on a civilian population in order to induce political change from their government? Can those two tactics be morally distinguished?” Think about it.

-Marina Espinoza

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