Sanctions imposed by the West on Iran have boosted the popularity of the Islamic Republic’s regime, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Major-General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said Sunday.
“They suppose that they can force the Iranian nation to surrender by doing so, but the outcome of all these sanctions has been the massive presence of the people in the rallies and at the ballot boxes as well as [their growing] support for the Islamic establishment and its noble objectives,” Fars News quoted Jafari as saying.
“The enemies are orchestrating many plots against Iran and they are trying to meddle in the country’s affairs through political and security issues in a bid to divert the revolution from its path, and because their moves in doing so have failed to make any success, they have frozen Iran’s assets in world banks and impose a ban on [Iran's] crude [oil] sales,” he added.
Last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said that Western-imposed sanctions on his country have not fulfilled their goal, leading only to “some” economic hardship for Iranians while furthering Tehran’s controversial nuclear program.
“Let’s be frank. Sanctions have produced 19,000 centrifuges. And some difficulty for Iranian people. Sanctions never affected policy,” Zarif told the BBC in an interview on the sidelines of nuclear talks between Tehran and the six world powers in Geneva.
“If you want to look at this practice that has been prevalent for the past eight years, and look at the net outcome: some pressure on the lives of Iranian people and 19,000 centrifuges. I don’t think anybody can claim victory for that,” he said.
“If sanctions were to work, Iran would have stopped its enrichment program. It didn’t. Sanctions produced exactly the opposite,” Zarif continued.
Last weekend, marathon talks between Iran and the P5+1 world powers ended without an agreement, although a deal came close. The sides are set to resume negotiations on Wednesday.
The six powers are considering a gradual rollback of sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. In exchange, they demand initial curbs on Iran’s nuclear program, including a cap on uranium enrichment to a level that cannot be turned quickly to weapons use.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vehemently opposed the Geneva deal and has spoken relentlessly against the agreement that would ease some sanctions while still leaving Iran with uranium-enrichment capabilities. Netanyahu has argued that sanctions on Iran must be increased, not eased, and has maintained that the punitive measures are what brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place.