Iran feels UK’s bite

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - EMANUELE OT­TOLENGHI

THE NEW sanc­tions that Bri­tain slapped on Iran this week are a wel­come first step for re­newed pres­sure on the Is­lamic repub­lic.

The gov­ern­ment did not wait for the UN to arouse from its slum­ber or its EU col­leagues to find a suit­able time — in be­tween the Lis­bon Treaty dis­trac­tion and the apres-Solana lot­tery — to agree on which sanc­tions they would ap­ply if Barack Obama fails to en­gage Iran (don’t hold your breath!).

Fol­low­ing the ex­am­ple of its US coun­ter­part, the Trea­sury tar­geted two key in­stru­ments Iran uses to il­lic­itly pro­cure for its nu­clear and bal­lis­tic mis­siles pro­grammes — Bank Mel­lat and the Is­lamic Repub­lic of Iran Ship­ping Lines (IRISL).

Tar­get­ing more en­ti­ties without wait­ing for an in­ter­na­tional con­sen­sus means that Bri­tain — which is, with France, at the fore­front of the pro-sanc­tions gov­ern­ments in Europe — has lost ei­ther con­fi­dence or pa­tience in the diplo­matic process.

It also in­di­cates that there are mea­sures that can be adopted uni­lat­er­ally.

Iran’s bank­ing sec­tor has only par­tially been hit across Europe. Its pro­cure­ment com­pa­nies — such as Kala Naft — still op­er­ate freely in many Euro­pean cap­i­tals, Lon­don in­cluded. In­sur­ance pre­mi­ums on its ships have not gone high enough. Ira­nian air­lines are still land­ing at Euro­pean air­ports and Ira­nian regime stal­warts still en­joy VIP sta­tus when they travel to Europe.

All th­ese are ar­eas where the re­solve of a sin­gle coun­try to put a ban and slap sanc­tions can hurt Iran’s rulers con­sid­er­ably. Let us hope that this first step, com­ing as Rus­sia turned its back on sanc­tions and Pres­i­dent Obama’s en­gage­ment ef­forts are fail­ing to yield any re­sult of sig­nif­i­cance, is fol­lowed by more action soon. Emanuele Ot­tolenghi is di­rec­tor of the Transat­lantic In­sti­tute in Brus­sels

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