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In this Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011 file photo, an Iranian security guard stands at the Maroun Petrochemical plant at the Imam Khomeini port, southwestern Iran. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

U.S. lawmakers are moving forward with harsher sanctions against Iran, aiming to further reduce the nation’s oil revenues and undercut its nuclear program. The bill would target Iran’s energy and shipping sectors. It would penalize anyone who works in Iran’s petroleum, petro-chemical or natural gas sector, or provides goods, services or infrastructure to the nation’s oil and gas industry.  Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. and its allies suspect the country is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

VOA’s Susan Yackee spoke with Iranian-Israeli Middle East analyst Meir Javedanfar about how the sanctions could work. Javedanfar is a politics lecturer at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, and the director of the Middle East Economic and Political Analysis Company in Tel Aviv.

Forcing a compromise

“Sanctions are a gradual process… The idea is, over time, to convince the Iranian leadership to… stop with the current policies. They have not changed yet, but the regime is witnessing a higher cost for its nuclear program through the sanctions, and also through the fact that the regime seems to be unable to muster its current resources to confront the sanctions. If the cost of the nuclear program, in its current terms and values, continues – it could be within a year or two – the regime will find that the current trend is unsustainable, and they will have to show some kind of compromise.”

Gulf backing

“At minimum, all of the members of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, Israel, quite probably Jordan, and Egypt back the sanctions. Some of them may back military action. Saudi Arabia, especially, will back military action. All of them back these sanctions against Iran because they don’t want Iran to have nuclear weapons. Also, an isolated Iran is in their advantage because the more isolated [Iran] is, the more room there is for Persian Gulf countries to expand their influence in the region, which is especially true of Saudi Arabia. Also, the more isolated Iran’s oil sector is, the more they could basically steal Iran’s customers and replace [Iran] with their own oil.”

Existential threat

“I think we should wait, but I think the sanctions should continue in their current format. At the same time, we should have a mechanism whereby the sanctions don’t impact the purchase of food and medicine for the Iranian government… I think the current sanctions against the Iranian regime are very strong, and unless the regime takes serious steps to consider a compromise, these sanctions could turn into an existential threat to the Islamic regime in Iran.”

Listen to more of Meir Javedanfar’s thoughts regarding sanctions on Iran (3:45):

Susan Yackee

Susan Yackee is anchor of VOA's International Edition radio show. She has been a reporter in the Washington area for more than 35 years and regularly interviews newsmakers and analysts in DC and around the world. Susan works in television, radio and social media.

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