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Monday, September 22, 2014

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Toughen the sanctions

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“No greater threat exists to the security and prosperity of the Middle East than a nuclear-armed Iran,” U.S. Defence Secretary Leon Panetta told a Brookings Institution forum last Friday. But no one appears to know what to do about it, and the frustration among Western foreign policy planners with the dangerous theocratic rulers in Tehran is becoming increasingly palpable each day.

Last week, a swarm of Iranians overran the British embassy, smashed windows, hurled petrol bombs and burned the British flag, forcing it to close and embassy staff to flee for their lives. Iranian police stood by facilitating the violence against Britain. The event had the obvious blessing of the Iranian government.

Justifiably, the EU and the West reacted to the Iranian brutishness with indignant outrage. The British expelled the Iranian diplomatic corps. But the Iranians merely smile at such retaliations. The European diplomatic responses to the ransacking of the British embassy matter little to the Tehran regime, much like the lives of the many innocents that have been taken by the terrorists in their pay or the conventions and norms of international law they constantly flout. 

Thus, the invigoration last week of the sanctions by western governments was welcome. Canada is to be commended for joining the effort led by the United States and Great Britain. The new sanctions target Iran’s banking system. They are in addition to the existing sanctions related to goods used in the refining of oil and the liquefaction of natural gas. 

But in light of the fact that the world is in a race against a measure of time presumed by most to be not more than one year, are the new, tougher sanctions enough? 

We believe they are not. We support the suggestion of Liberal MP Irwin Cotler that the sanctions should specifically target the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as well. “The Iranian Islamic revolutionary guard corps has emerged as the epicentre of the nuclear weaponization program, of international terrorism from Argentina to Afghanistan and massive domestic repression,” Cotler reminded the world in the House of Commons last week.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) also urges the Canadian government to specifically target the IRGC. (See the related story on page 1.) As CIJA chief executive Shimon Fogel told The CJN, “Sanctions targeting the IRGC as a whole would completely isolate it financially, curtail its ability to contribute to these core areas of concern and undermine the Iranian regime’s ability to continue along its current trajectory.”

The level of sanctions imposed by the West should directly relate to the level of urgency posed by the Iranian threat, of which, according to Panetta, none greater exists at the moment.

The West must impose even tougher sanctions on Iran.

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