Sanctions hurt Iran, but compromise unlikely: report

Mon Jan 17, 2011 9:50am EST
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By Jon Hemming

LONDON (Reuters) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's management of Iran's economy has been a "disaster" and sanctions are making matters worse, a report said on Monday, but Tehran is still unlikely to compromise on its nuclear program.

Iran is due to hold a second round of talks with six major powers over its disputed nuclear activities in Istanbul on January 21-22 following U.N., U.S., and EU sanctions imposed last year that target oil and gas sectors vital to the Iranian economy.

But Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the most powerful figure in Iran, are unlikely to be swayed, wrote Jonathan Paris in a report for the Legatum Institute, a London-based think-tank backed by the Legatum investment group.

"The reality is that even if the economy is hurting, it has a very small place in the calculus of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad. Unless the severity of the sanctions dramatically escalates, it is unlikely that Iranian leaders will see the sanctions as a domestic threat to their survival in power," he said.

"Enormous pressure is required to lead them to compromise on the nuclear program."

If Iran can survive the current wave of sanctions, imposed after eight years of wrangling over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, Iranian leaders may calculate the international community will not be able to maintain enough unity to keep up the measures.

"If sanctions fail to induce a compromise, then it seems that the only remaining measure is to convince Iran's leadership that there is a credible threat of a U.S. attack," said Paris.

Western states believe Iran's drive to enrich uranium is a cover for a secret program to either make nuclear weapons, or at least achieve a capability to do so.   Continued...

<p>A young boy stands behind a flag as he and his mother, supporters of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wait for his arrival at Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport May 5, 2010, after his trip to attend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at United Nations Headquarters in New York. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl</p>