More sanctions against Iran?

DURING their meeting at 10, Downing Street in London yesterday, US President Bush and British Prime Minister Brown promised more and tougher political and economic sanctions against Iran. The idea ostensibly is to discourage and deter Teheran from continuing its nuclear programme, especially uranium enrichment considered essential for building nuclear weapons.

The US and UK leaders put up a united and brave front on the issue. However, it is anybody's guess how effective or useful these new curbs are going to be in dealing with the Iranian leadership. Such curbs have failed to persuade Teheran to halt or suspend its nuclear programme.

Frankly speaking, political or economic sanctions are a bad idea. For one, they never work. For two, they always end up hurting and victimising the people, rather than the regime. A chilling case in point is Saddam Hussein's Iraq. The long era of sanctions against Iraq's Baathist regime after the first Gulf war destroyed the country and inflicted immense misery on the Iraqi people leading to tens of thousands of civilian casualties, most of them children and women. And the regime remained unaffected.

So instead of employing ever more sanctions or force against Iran, the issue should be sorted out by way of dialogue and diplomacy. In fact, it's better for everyone concerned if the UN and IAEA, the nuclear watchdog of the world body, are given complete freedom to engage and resolve this business with Iran, without the constant interference of big powers.

For its part, Iran should do more to cooperate with the world community, especially the IAEA. It has a right to pursue a nuclear programme for peaceful purposes under NPT. At the same time, it has to address the growing concerns in the Middle East and around the world over its nuclear ambitions.

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