Friday, June 11, 2010

Why the Iran Sanctions Matter

Wednesday's U.N. Security Council resolution sanctioning Iran marks a critical turning point in the U.S.-led efforts to target Iran's illicit activities. The resolution focuses on Iran's nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs; the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is responsible for these programs as well as the regime's support for terrorism; and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), which has been directly involved in proliferation shipments. The sanctions included in this resolution are, as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice put it, "as tough as they are smart and precise." If anything, this new resolution is both too precise and purposefully vague. And therein lies its strength.


The need for this purposefully vague language in relation to the IRISL is illustrated well in a recent LWJ post...
The New York Times ran a front page story yesterday about the effectiveness of the Revolutionary Guard's shell corporations created for the state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRSIL). The article explains that 73 of the 123 known IRSIL vessels are owned and operated by foreign companies not listed the on the blacklist of the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In order to obtain illegal cargo -- like a 51-foot Bladerunner speedboat useful for conversion into a fast-attack craft -- IRSIL creates a daisy-chain of shell corporations running foreign flags to protect the ships.

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