Can EU Sanctions Stop Iran?

The European Union announced today the imposition of tough sanctions targeting Iran’s energy, shipping, insurance, and financial sectors. After seven years of delay negotiating tactics by the Mullahs, the EU is no longer willing to be completely hoodwinked by the deceptive financial practices the Iranian regime uses to secure funding for its nuclear-weapons program and its terror entity, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

In early July, Congress passed hard-hitting new sanctions against Iran’s vulnerable energy sector and its IRGC, the hard-line Ahmadinejad loyalists who crushed the country’s pro-democracy movement a little over a year ago. Coupled with U.S. sanctions that also target Iran’s energy and financial businesses, the EU sanctions might well be the last, best chance to stop Iran’s illegal nuclear program without military action.

The litmus test will be aggressive enforcement of U.S. and EU sanctions. The EU — particularly Germany, Iran’s largest EU exporter — is notorious for porous and lax export-control policies. Turning the regulation screws on blocking the delivery of technology to and investments in Iran’s Achilles’ heel, its energy sector, might lead to a political transformation in the Islamic Republic.

According to Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, “about 60 percent of the technology used by Iran to exploit its natural gas sector comes from one European nation: Germany.”

All of this means that if Germany and countries like Switzerland, whose energy giant Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft Laufenburg (EGL) is set to implement its 18 billion euro gas deal with the National Iranian Gas Export Company (NIGEC) in defiance of U.S. complaints, pull the plug on their support of Iran’s energy and infrastructure, there might very well be a chance to alter Iran’s jingoistic conduct. The alternative is nothing short of military strikes.

Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

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