US sanctions affecting Iran from nukes to nappies

Iranians hold their government to task over the sanctions imposed for Tehran’s continued pursuit of its quest for nuclear technology.
Friday 21/09/2018
Fealing the heat. People walk in front of a currency exchange shop in Tehran. (AFP)
Fealing the heat. People walk in front of a currency exchange shop in Tehran. (AFP)

US-imposed sanctions on Tehran are starting to affect all aspects of daily life in Iran with some basic necessities becoming scarce, adding to the people’s growing frustration with the government’s handling of the economy.

Even when certain items in high demand are available, prices are likely to skyrocket. Such is the situation with baby nappies, which, when available, have increased as much as 137%.

A bag of baby diapers that used to cost about $9 is now selling for approximately $21 — if the items can even be found. The recent increase in cost and unavailability of the items have led to hoarding, with people stocking up whenever they can for fear that prices will go up even more and nappies will become rarer in an uncertain economy.

Economic hardships have brought people into the streets in protest, to which the government has responded with force as the mullahs are forever worried that protests could lead to something far more serious.

Last month, a 21-year-old university student was convicted in Tehran of planning to overthrow the regime. She was sentenced to seven years in prison. All she was doing, friends and fellow students said, was attending a meeting where better sleeping arrangements in the women’s dormitory were discussed.

Indeed, baby’s diapers might appear unimportant in view of everything else that is happening in the region but the brouhaha caused by the lack of nappies in Iran is not to be ignored or downplayed. It was important enough for Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to raise the issue during a meeting with President Hassan Rohani.

This is only one of a series of headaches facing the regime in Tehran. In June, for the first time since the Islamic Revolution put the clergy in power, there were demonstrations by Tehran bazaar merchants. Historically, the highly influential small businessmen have served as a very reliable thermometer of Iran’s social and political stability.

The mullahs blame the United States for imposing the sanctions, dishing out the usual rhetoric accompanied by what has now become traditional chanting of “Death to America,” and “Death to Israel,” respectively, the greater and the lesser devils. It buys them time and they hope it will rally the people behind them.

That strategy may have worked in the past but with the ability to access to non-censured news sources on the internet, authoritarian regimes will have a much harder time pulling the wool over their people’s eyes.

The people blame the government for taking the country down a political road that led to the international community taking punitive measures against Iran. So the people hold their government to task over the sanctions imposed on Iran for Tehran’s continued pursuit of its quest for nuclear technology, one that would allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them.

This is just a single aspect of the crisis. Baby nappies are made in Iran so a shortage should not be an issue. However, the raw materials used to manufacture them are imported. Thus the problem.

The Rohani government has placed the blame — at least partially — on crooked business people trying to make financial gains of the suffering of others. The sanctions are affecting all aspects of the economy, from nukes to baby nappies.

Most Iranians simply want to get on with their lives and could not care less about the government of the mullahs running short on parts for the military’s air force or the nuclear processing sites at Natanz and other secret locations around the country were forced to stop their work due to lack of essential materials that Iran can no longer import under the sanction laws.

It’s maybe too early to say that Rohani’s government is in trouble but the lack of baby diapers on the market is sure to raise a stink.