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Sanctions Against Iran: A Colonial Tool

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is a peace activist, essayist and public speaker. This article is an excerpt from a longer article on the CASMII website (

Once again the Bush administration is leading the pack to impose a third round of sanctions on Iran although Tehran has cooperated with the IAEA.

Sanctions are an alternative to military force. By punishing a nation economically, socially, and/or politically, it is hoped that change will be affected without the prohibitive cost of war.

The current policies directed at isolating and undermining the government have in reality helped to weaken the social and economic institutions which the country requires if it is to become a viable democracy.

Neoconservatives persist in their message that ‘our ally Israel’ must be safeguarded from the Iranian threat, and for this purpose, a third round of sanctions must be imposed on Iran to prevent them from building a nuclear weapon. The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany have agreed on a draft resolution for a third round of sanctions against Iran. It would seem that the perception of threat is misplaced given that Israel is so well-prepared to protect herself – with Germany’s help.

Meanwhile, the country that is a signatory to the NPT and one which is now facing sanctions for abiding by Article IV of the NPT and being a threat to world peace for having future intentions, has made curious technological advances of its own that must surely be a threat to those who have hijacked the spirit of ‘Atoms for Peace’.

The colonial powers owed their ability to control to the power of “mystification”. This included the superior arms and medicine which they thought automatically extends to the culture of the ‘mysterious’ colonizers. The mindset persists today. Iran has broken the cycle which sounds a loud alarm in those quarters where the existence of certain groups depends on the subjugation of fellow human beings.

No doubt sanctions and war are emotional issues; when America was led to an illegal war against sovereign Iraq, our emotions played a great role. Fear subjugated our common sense, altruism – the desire to give the people of Iraq a chance at liberty, misled us into believing the lies we were told. Liberty cost millions of lives. Today, we are being asked to live in fear of Iran. A nation that in spite of limited resources and isolation has expended so much of its resources to finding innovative ways to improve and enhance life, while our own government spends billions building weapons of mass destruction and fighting wars, or assisting countries that wish to engage in war. We have to ask ourselves: “Which is the nation with a heart?”