First, protests and street clashes since disputed presidential elections last June means that a “significant” portion of Iranians “are likely to blame the regime for sanctions which are not so broad as to hurt everybody,” says Dr. Chubin.
Second, the Revolutionary Guard’s expanding control over more diverse chunks of the Iranian economy – including billions of dollars of new acquisitions and contracts in the past six months – make it a “bigger target [and] so presumably it could be targeted relatively accurately,” says Chubin.
Still, he adds, even a careful combination of such sanctions – aimed solely at the Revolutionary Guard and its front companies, for example – is not likely to make Iran “more vulnerable in the sense that tomorrow they are going to stop the [nuclear] program.”
Iran’s nuclear standoff with UN Security Council powers plus Germany deepened on Monday when France rejected a new deadline set by Iran over the weekend for acceptance of Tehran’s revised terms for a nuclear fuel swap.
The original deal put to Iran by those nations last October to exchange Iran’s low-enriched uranium for higher grade fuel it needs for medical purposes – with an informal end-of-year deadline – was first accepted, then rejected by Iran.
“We are not the ones who have to decide whether to accept what they want to impose on us,” said French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner. “No, this is not the way it is done.”
Given the political turmoil in Iran and its apparent inability until recently to coordinate a response to the nuclear offer, the US has so far been reluctant to impose measures on Iran.