Harsh economic sanctions have taken a serious toll on Iran’s economy, but U.S. and European officials acknowledge that the measures have not yet produced the kind of public unrest that could force Iranian leaders to change their nuclear policies.
Nine months after Iran was hit with the toughest restrictions in its history, the nation’s economy appears to have settled into a slow, downward glide, hemorrhaging jobs and hard currency but appearing to be in no immediate danger of collapse, Western diplomats and analysts say.
At the same time, the hardships have not triggered significant domestic protests or produced a single concession by Iran on its nuclear program. Although weakened, Iran has resisted Western pressure through a combination of clever tactics, political repression and old-fashioned stubbornness, analysts say.
The mixed results from the sanctions complicate the West’s bargaining position ahead of the next round of nuclear talks with Iran, in early April. At the last round, in February, the United States and five other world powers offered significant new concessions to Iran in exchange for curtailment of its uranium-enrichment program, but Iran has neither accepted the proposal nor offered concessions of its own. Iran’s continuing resistance also will make it tougher for President Obama to reassure Israeli and Arab allies when he arrives in the region midweek.