Israeli U.N. Ambassador Says Iran Sanctions Are ‘Much More Effective Than People Think’

Back in February, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu complained that the sanctions imposed on Iran by the international community “have not” had any effect. But it appears that the government may be shifting its tone. Today, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, said sanctions on Iran are working.

Referring to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication’s (SWIFT) recent decision to expel 30 Iranian financial institutions — including the Central Bank — from using the key banking industry communication network, Prosor said the sanctions are “important” and “have an effect,” Foreign Policy’s Colum Lynch reports:

[H]e also credited international sanctions, particularly a set of financial measures imposed by the United States and the European Union, with exacting a steep enough price that it may force Tehran to change its behavior. Prosor cited a recent decision by the Belgium-based Society of World Wide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, or Swift, blocking dozens of Iranian firms from doing business as the latest evidence the sanctions are having an impact.

“I think the international community at this stage has really moved forward and have made at least clear to Tehran that there is a certain price tag for continuing” its pursuit of nuclear weapons, he said. “The decision on SWIFT, the issue of the sanctions by the EU, are important and have an effect on Iran…I do see really a movement on the international stage, especially on the economic side…It’s much more effective than people think and it might change, hopefully it might change behavior patterns if we continue with it.”

The New York Times noted last month that the SWIFT decision “severs a crucial conduit for Iran to electronically repatriate billions of dollars’ worth of earnings from the sale of oil and other exports.”

“It is a very efficient measure,” said a European Union official. “It can seriously cripple the banking sector of Iran.”

On Friday, President Obama announced further economic measures directed at Iran, making the determination that global oil supplies were sufficient enough to allow countries to reduce their imports of Iranian oil thereby clearing the way for the Obama administration to impose harsh penalties on foreign banks that purchase Iranian oil.

“There is evidence that these sanctions are hurting,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a recent interview, “that it’s impacting on their economy, it’s impacting on their ability to govern themselves.”

Lynch also reported that Proser said that he believes Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. Top American officials and the IAEA agree that Iran is continuing to develop its nuclear capabilities and that some of their activity has a military dimension. However, U.S. and Israeli intelligence and the IAEA say Iran has, as Panetta said, “not made the decision to actually produce a nuclear weapon”