Cliff May
First, the good news: sanctions have helped drive Iran’s currency to its lowest level ever, half its value from a year ago. Meanwhile, Iran’s oil exports are down almost 45% in July, the most recent month for which data are available.

The bad news: Iran’s rulers are as determined as ever to develop nuclear weapons that they intend to use to dominate the Middle East, weaken America – “Satan incarnate” -- and wipe Israel off the map. “New and significant intelligence” received by the International Atomic Energy Agency suggests Iran is closer than ever to acquiring the ability to build nuclear weapons.

Few sanctions advocates expected that Iran’s rulers – men possessed of a radical ideology and grand ambitions – would easily or quickly be convinced that acquiring nukes is more trouble than it’s worth. There was a chance: In 1988, then-Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini reluctantly agreed to a ceasefire with Iraq due, it is widely believed , to the economic crisis brought on by the conflict and the peril that posed to the survival of his Islamic Revolution.

There are no indications that sanctions at present levels have brought Iran’s current rulers anywhere near that point. What sanctions have done is end business as usual with the world’s most threatening regime, and link Iran’s crimes to more than just rhetorical consequences. By no other means was Iran going to be singled out or isolated – certainly not by the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement or other organs of the so-called international community.

Iran is feeling severe economic pain . In July 2011, Iran’s oil profits were $9.8 billion. In July of this year: $2.9 billion according to a report prepared by the Rhodium Group , highly respected oil industry analysts. Separately, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies , the think tank I head, prepared a report almost a year ago on the impact of sanctions on the oil market. It correctly predicted about a 40 percent drop in Iranian oil sales – with no significant rise in global oil prices as a result.

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.