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Vol. 76/No. 27      July 23, 2012

Imperialist embargo takes
toll on Iran toilers

(front page)
The imperialist drive against Iran has intensified with the kicking in of U.S. sanctions against oil transactions through Iranian banks on June 28 and the European Union’s embargo of Iranian oil that began July 1.

These steps are the latest in a yearslong effort by Washington and its allies to force Tehran to abandon its nuclear program, which they claim could be used to produce nuclear weapons. Tehran maintains the program is aimed at generating electric power and medical isotopes.

The imperialist pressure has included military threats, cyberwar assaults on computer networks at Iran’s nuclear facilities, and assassinations of scientists.

At the same time, negotiations between Tehran and representatives of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the U.S.—and Germany continue.

Both sides have recently refrained from provocative statements. This includes the Israeli government, which had earlier threatened airstrikes on Iran’s nuclear plants.

According to Reuters, as a result of the new sanctions Iran’s oil exports in July could fall to below 1.1 million barrels per day from a 2.2 million average in 2011. This would amount to “a loss of around $3.4 billion in monthly government revenue compared to a year ago,” the press agency said.

Iran relies on oil exports for 80 percent of its national budget.

Tehran “has been reluctant to reduce its oil production, fearing that doing so could damage its wells,” the New York Times reported July 4. “So while it furiously works to build storage capacity on shore,” it has been using some 65 tankers as floating storage facilities.

Imperialist sanctions have had a devastating impact on working people in Iran. “Unemployment in Iran’s industrial heartland has soared to an unofficially estimated 35%,” said a July 1 article in Britain’s daily Telegraph, because factories are unable to import vital materials and equipment and are laying off workers.

The article reports that the prices of 10 basic foods have risen by an average of 70 percent since March in several supermarkets and government food distribution centers in Tehran because of increased transportation costs.

The New York Times reported July 3 that in an effort “to deter the Iranian military from any possible attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz,” Washington has moved four additional minesweepers into the region as well as a converted amphibious transport and docking ship that will serve as a logistics and operations hub for mine clearing. The strait is a narrow waterway between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula where about one-third of world oil tanker shipments transit.

The Pentagon also plans to hold a major mine countermeasure exercise in the Arab-Persian Gulf with 19 countries in September.
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