Publications By Category

Publications By Type


In-House Bulletins


Policy Papers


Iran Democracy Monitor - No. 126

Iran's Enrichment Blackmail;
The "Economy of Resistance" Takes Shape;
A Setback for the IRGC in Sudan

Edited by Ilan Berman and Isaac Medina
October 29, 2012

Amid widening economic pressure from the West, Iranian officials are pulling out all the stops to bring Washington and European capitals back to the negotiating table. To that end, a top Iranian official has warned that a breakdown of the negotiations now being proffered by Tehran will force the regime to accelerate and expand its enrichment still further. “The West now has a chance to strike a deal with Iran,” Mansour Haghigatpour, the deputy head of Iran’s influential parliamentary committee on national security, has told reporters. If such a deal doesn’t materialize, however, “perhaps we may need to produce nuclear fuel for large commercial vessels that need 60 percent purity.” (Associated Press, October 24, 2012)


This summer, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei publicly called for the Islamic Republic to adopt an “economy of resistance” in response to mounting economic sanctions. Now, regime officials are putting the recommendation into practice. According to Nezameddin Barzegari, the head of Iran’s National Standard Organization, the old reality – in which Iran treated oil revenue as a windfall that could be spent on luxury goods – no longer obtains. Instead, Barzegari has counseled, the regime must consider a “ban” on luxury items as a way of conserving its financial reserves. (Tehran FARS, October 25, 2012)


Israel’s long-running clandestine conflict with Iran appears to have broken into the open on an unexpected front: North Africa. According to Sudan's Information Minister, Ahmed Belal Osman, four Israeli planes bombed a military industrial complex in southern Khartoum last week, destroying a weapons factory belonging to Iran's Revolutionary Guards. The move appears to be part of an Israeli effort to stem Iranian assistance for the terrorist group Hamas; Israel is known to have been carrying out military and intelligence operations in Sudan for a number of years in an attempt to prevent the provisions of weapons and training from there to the Gaza Strip, where Hamas holds sway. (Tel Aviv Ha’aretz, October 25, 2012; McClatchy, October 25, 2012)


The Iranian regime may be experiencing economic turbulence at home, but that has not stopped it from mapping out an ambitious “soft power” strategy to expand its influence in neighboring Afghanistan. Iran’s effort, crafted in anticipation of U.S. and Coalition withdrawal in 2014, involves deepening its influence on Afghan society through the provision of humanitarian aid and the expansion of its intelligence contacts there. Most prominently, the Islamic Republic is said to have mobilized the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee (IKRC), a shadowy government-linked aid group, which is now building a robust network of grassroots influence via loans, aid packages, vocational training and micro-finance – and expanding Iran’s sway in the process. The effects have been pronounced; "Iran is the real influence here,” admits one high ranking official in Kabul. “With one snap of their fingers, they can mobilize 20,000 Afghans." (Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2012)


Although weathering an unprecedented economic crisis, Iran's officials still appear to be thinking big. The Islamic Republic “has broken the monopoly of the U.S. and a number of Western countries over the world management system,” General Yadollah Javani, the former head of the IRGC’s Politburo, told a recent gathering of naval forces in Bandar Abbas. Iran “has turned into a strategic rival that can change the structure of the world’s command center and become a member of it.” (Iran Daily Brief, October 23, 2012)

Related Categories: Iran Freedom Initiative; Iran

Downloadable Files: N/A