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Despite sanctions, U.S. reports no shift in Iran's nuke plans

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By The Washington Post
Sunday, March 17, 2013, 7:39 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Harsh economic sanctions have taken a serious toll on Iran's economy, but U.S. and European officials acknowledge that the measures have not yet produced the kind of public unrest that could force Iranian leaders to change their nuclear policies.

Nine months after Iran was hit with the toughest restrictions in its history, the nation's economy appears to have settled into a slow, downward glide, hemorrhaging jobs and hard currency but appearing to be in no immediate danger of collapse, Western diplomats and analysts say.

At the same time, the sanctions have failed to trigger significant protests or produce a single Iranian concession on the country's nuclear program. Though weakened, Iran has resisted Western pressure through a combination of clever tactics, political repression and old-fashioned stubbornness, analysts say.

The mixed results from sanctions complicate the West's bargaining position before the next round of Iranian nuclear talks in early April. At the last round, in February, the United States and five other world powers offered significant new concessions to Iran in exchange for cuts in its nuclear program, but Iran so far has neither accepted the proposal nor offered concessions of its own.

The Iranian regime shows no sign of giving in. On Thursday, a powerful cleric taunted the U.S. administration, vowing that economic pressure could never force Iran to give up its nuclear program.

“The Iranian nation is committed to resist arrogant powers, including the United States,” said Ali Saeedi, the personal representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

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