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On the last day of 2011, US President Obama signed into law a military authorization bill containing a provision that imposes new sanctions presumably in order to punish Iran for its nuclear program. The sanctions force foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank to choose to either end that business or be blocked from the US economy. In a parallel development. On 3 January, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said he had no doubt that Iran was developing nuclear weapons and urged the European Union to follow the United States and adopt stricter sanctions by freezing Iranian central bank assets and imposing sanctions on Tehran’s oil exports by the end of the month.
Iranian officials have generally dismissed the threat of sanctions. However, on 27 December, Iran's Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned that if foreign sanctions were imposed on the country’s oil industry, his government might shut the Strait of Hormuz- a narrow thirty mile channel through which nearly one third of the world's seabourne oil passes. The language of sanctions and threats has led to heightended tension in the standoff between Iran on the one hand and the United States and European Union on the other.
Shahram Aghamir of VOMENA spoke with Ali Rezaei, a sociologist about the rising tenstion between Iran and the West, the make up of the rulling bloc, the factional disputes within the regime, and Iran's strategy in handling the latest crisis.
Ali Rezaei is a social researcher currently completing doctoral work at the University of Calgary. He has been involved with the reformist press in Iran for the last six years.
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