April 20, 2010 | Quote

Iran Deserves Targeted Sanctions

Investors in the Iranian energy sector should follow the example of world bankers through tough sanctions to punish post-election Tehran, analysts say.

Tehran earned the ire of the international community with its brutal crackdown on protesters demonstrating against the disputed victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the June 12 election.

With its adamant pursuit of nuclear technology and post-election posturing, Tehran must be convinced through targeted sanctions that its behavior is lamentable, analysts write in The Wall Street Journal.

Michael Jacobson with The Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Mark Dubowitz with the conservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies point to bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives targeting investors in the Iranian energy sector as a punitive deterrent option.

Iran relies on foreign gasoline imports to meet 40 percent of its domestic demands. The House measure would sanction foreign investors involved in gasoline sales to Iran, which the bill’s authors say is Iran’s “Achilles heel.”

Washington hit Dutch bank ABN Amro with an $80 million fine in 2005 for violations of Iranian and Libyan sanctions under the Bank Secrecy Act.

A similar approach could be useful to punish India’s Reliance Industries, Swiss-Dutch giant Vitol and multinational supermajor Royal Dutch Shell, the authors recommend.

With the gasoline trade for Iran approaching $9 billion per year, Iranian petroleum suppliers should look to lessons learned through the Bank Secrecy Act and reassess the risk of dealing with Tehran, the authors conclude.