In the midst of a diplomatic flurry among members of the UN Security Council to find a consensus in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, two probable outcomes are emerging: UNSC will pass a watered-down sanction resolutions against Iran and Iran will continue with its nuclear program; the Round Four of an on-going match between the West and Iran being played at UNSC.
But the implications for each side of the fourth round of sanctions are not equal. The West does not have much to lose. A nuclear Iran can co-exist with the West and its neighbors in the current state of international affairs. It’s a different story for Iran. The country’s economic and financial ties to the global markets are the price Iran would pay for its nuclear policy.
Restrictions against Iranian banking activities abroad will be increased and for the first time the UNSC is expected to call for global “vigilance” against Iran’s Central Bank. The latter will be hurtful for Iran. Although a step short of blacklisting the country’s central bank to appease China, the resolution would create major hurdle for Iran to operate in major global markets dominated by the West. The cost of having a robust nuclear program will considerably jump for Iran.
Countries much like individuals need to continually make difficult choices. Iran could have accepted the enriched uranium swap taking place in Turkey and by doing so it could stop the tightening of sanctions against its financial institutions. The end result would not have been much different for Iran. Its uranium enrichment program in Natanz would have remained intact and it could still opt to follow the Japanese option of being ready to make the bomb when it wanted to.
But the Iranian government is once again overplaying its hand. It wants to use its nuclear program not just for its intended purpose, but also as a tool internally to further strengthen its position over its competitors, both inside and outside the Green movement, and adds to its prestige as perceived in the region. It could have swapped the uranium abroad, however, without jeopardizing those goals.
And in the midst of all this, the economic and financial implications of such policy are pushed aside. The current Iranian government does not believe “it’s the economy, stupid” but that the economy is the domain of the stupid.