Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton says the European Union’s decision to impose an embargo on oil shipments from Iran is “less than meets the eye” as it will be up to each individual nation whether to comply with the edict. Bolton also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Monday that Europe’s sinking economy might play a critical role in those countries’ decisions.
“I think there is less than meets the eye — what happens immediately is that there is prohibition on new contracts on oil to be delivered from Iran — but existing contracts will continue to be honored through July,” Bolton said. “And enforcement of the ban itself is left up to each nation, as best I can tell, which means countries like Greece, Italy, and Spain — that rely heavily on imports from Iran — may be able to find ways around it.
“You can bet the Iranians are working on that — they’ve know this for 10 years that this kind of sanction was possible, and they do have contingency plans,” he said. “So I’ll be surprised if it has that much impact.”
The former ambassador also said although the oil embargo and other sanctions have a cost to Tehran, the Iranians could take advantage of Europe being mired in an economic quagmire.
“The Iranians have another card to play here — and that is obviously the weak economic conditions in some of those European countries, particularly those heavily dependent on their oil, hoping that if the risk of the recovery in Europe is made clear that they will find additional loopholes for that oil — I think that is possible too,” Bolton said. “The sanctions do impose an economic cost — I think that is all to the good — I think anything that puts pressure on the regime and ultimately helps bring the regime down would be a plus.
“But to be effective, sanctions have to be applied comprehensively, swiftly — they need to be strictly enforced — none of that is happening here. You’ve got countries like China, Russia, Venezuela prepared to help evade the sanctions,” he continued. “India is a major buyer of Iranian oil, and they say they are not going to honor anybody’s sanctions unless decided by the Security Council, which Russia and China will block.
“So I don’t see this is really going to do what sanctions ought to be aimed at, which is stopping the nuclear weapons program,” he said. “In fact that same European statement they hope it will bring Iran to the negotiating table, as if that is much of an answer to much of anything — it’s not.”
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