July 8, 2015 | Quoted by Robert McFarlane - The Washington Times

How Iran Turns Lemons Into High-Octane Lemonade

In 2009, as intelligence reports confirmed that Iran — the world’s leading state-sponsor of terrorism — had resumed its nuclear weapons development program, the efforts of American policy officials to reverse it focused first on Iranian vulnerabilities. What critical commodity or service essential to daily life in Iran might be restricted by sanctions and thereby influence the government of Iran to change course? It didn’t take long to identify such a strategic commodity: gasoline.

Paradoxically, although Iran has very substantial oil reserves, years ago it adopted the practice of selling its crude to foreign refiners who would provide gasoline and other petroleum products back to Tehran. Consequently, a successful allied effort to restrict the export to Iran of gasoline and other consumables — and, of course, to prohibit financial institutions from enabling such transactions — would surely get the attention of Iranian leaders. 


At that point something unusual happened in Washington. An experienced group of outside national security professionals at a local nonpartisan think tank, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), began to focus with laser precision on identifying which measures would restrict which products, by which companies, in what countries, with the help of which banks, producing a mountain of incisive knowledge. FDD immediately offered the results of its research pro bono to the Treasury Department, the U.S. Congress, the United Nations and allied governments.

The results have been truly extraordinary. In very little time, this team under the leadership of FDD President Cliff May and Executive Director Mark Dubowitz became the go-to source of knowledge regarding Iran’s trading practices for the House and Senate and for governments throughout Europe and much of the world. Before long legal sanctions with real bite were enacted and squeezed the Iranian economy with evident political impact. As a result, for the first time in its history, Iran agreed to talks with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (plus Germany), focused on measures to circumscribe its nuclear weapons program.

Thanks to FDD and a bipartisan effort in Congress and with allies, sanctions have worked and coerced Iran into engaging with us to discuss restrictions on their nuclear weapons program.


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Iran Iran Sanctions