Are Additional Sanctions Hurting Iran? The United States and the United Nations have been keeping pressure on Iran -- mostly over its nuclear ambitions. What evidence is there that sanctions are having an effect? Ramin Mostaghim, a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times in Tehran, talks to Renee Montagne about the sanctions.

Are Additional Sanctions Hurting Iran?

Are Additional Sanctions Hurting Iran?

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The United States and the United Nations have been keeping pressure on Iran — mostly over its nuclear ambitions. What evidence is there that sanctions are having an effect? Ramin Mostaghim, a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times in Tehran, talks to Renee Montagne about the sanctions.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

To find out what effect a long line of sanctions are having inside Iran, we're joined by Ramin Mostaghim. He's a correspondent with the Los Angeles Times, and we reached him in Tehran.

Good morning.

Mr. RAMIN MOSTAGHIM (Correspondent, Los Angeles Times): Good morning to you.

MONTAGNE: Now, the U.S. and the U.N. have been keeping up the pressure on Iran, mostly over its nuclear ambitions. What evidence is there that these sanctions are having an effect?

Mr. MOSTAGHIM: In fact, I'm afraid I can say that traditional rightist groups and those who are pro-government are enjoying and profiting from the sanctions, because they have the upper hand in all the international transactions, and Iran has a long border with 15 countries. So there's always chance to smuggle in and out everything they want.

Of course, it costs money for the people and for the private sectors. But as far as the government is concerned, they are profiting from the situation.

MONTAGNE: Give us a specific, when you say the government has been profiting from the situation.

Mr. MOSTAGHIM: If I just want to sell some things outside the country, export some things, as a private sector, I cannot tolerate the sanction-breaking procedure. It would cost me between 15 to 30 percent increase of anything I do. So, I, as a private sector, lose my competitive edge with the government or state-owned enterprises.

So I have two options, either to stop and give up my business, or get connections to the state-run enterprises. And it costs a lot, so I lose and the government gets upper hand.

MONTAGNE: Now, these are state-run enterprises. Can you just list a couple of areas where the state has big enterprises?

Mr. MOSTAGHIM: I mean, apart from gas and oil fields, anything that they import and export in bulk and in larger scale, government has the upper hand.

MONTAGNE: Well, then let me ask you this. We've just heard from the Treasury Department's Stuart Levey that the Revolutionary Guard is being targeted now with sanctions. Revolutionary Guard is a part of the regime, also has a hand in many lucrative businesses, regular sort of businesses. Will these sanctions, you think, inside Iran hurt the regime in the sense that they're hurting the Revolutionary Guard?

Mr. MOSTAGHIM: I suppose yes, to some extent - not in short term. It hurts them. It costs them a lot. I mean, there might be some riots, yes. A sporadic riot is the by-product of this pressure on the government. But we cannot predict how impoverished people react. They might choose other way that's not what we expect them to do.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much for talking with us.

Mr. MOSTAGHIM: You're most welcome.

MONTAGNE: Ramin Mostaghim is the correspondent for the Los Angeles Times in Tehran.

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