Daniel Freedman on It Shines for All blogs the following familiar thought:
“Washington has not yet seriously tackled the economic dimension of the current crisis — or explored the financial levers by which Iran can be confronted,” Ilan Berman writes in the Wall Street Journal.
This amounts to a critical oversight, because Iran’s economy is deeply susceptible to foreign pressure on at least three fronts. All that is necessary is the proper political will to exploit these weaknesses.
Iran’s first vulnerability is its dependence on foreign investment. Today, though a bona fide energy superpower that produces some 3.9 million barrels of oil daily, the Islamic Republic still requires sustained international engagement. Studies say that the regime in Tehran currently needs $1 billion a year to maintain current oil output levels, and $1.5 billion to increase them — and that without it, Iran could quickly become a net energy importer …
Iran’s second weakness stems from its centralized economic hierarchy. For all of its lip service to fiscal reforms and grass-roots prosperity, the vast majority of the regime’s wealth remains concentrated in the hands of a very small number of people … By impeding their access to global markets and curtailing their capacity to engage in commerce, the international community can immediately capture the attention of these key decision-makers.
Far and away the biggest chink in Iran’s economic armor, however, is its reliance on foreign gasoline. Today, Iran’s antiquated, socialist economy — where a gallon of gas still sells for roughly 40 cents — has become a major Achilles’ heel …
But the West’s window of opportunity to implement such measures is rapidly closing.