“We’ll obviously implement the letter and the spirit of the law to the best of our ability,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
U.S. sanctions policy has come under criticism from various groups, some of whom argue that the such measures are counterproductive and disproportionately harmful to ordinary Iranians. Others have argued that they are not strong enough to deter Iran’s nuclear progress and advocate tougher measures, including military action.
The Obama administration is under pressure to reach a deal with Iran that would severely limit its ability to use its nuclear facitlities to make nuclear weapons. Last month a group of 24 prominent U.S. diplomats, policy experts and national security officials urged Obama in a letter to “pursue a robust diplomatic initiative” in the coming weeks to fulfill his campaign pledge to resolve the Iranian nuclear impassed.
“Behind the tough rhetoric that continues to emanate from both sides, there are also hidden signals of greater readiness to embrace a compromise that accepts the other’s red line,” said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council and one of the signers of the document.
Sanctions continue to have a deep impact on Iran’s economy, but not to the point of creating widespread poverty or inspiring protests as some have predicted.
Iran’s rial dropped sharply in value against the dollar in October, losing more than half its value in less than a month. Since then, the country’s financial difficulties have increased and there has been a slow slide toward lower consumer spending and higher unemployment.
The automobile industry has seen a 40% decrease in production since last year. Medical imports have taken a particularly big hit and the cost of many essential treatments have more than doubled.
Food, however, is generally available, if more expensive, as price controls remain in place for the most basic goods such as bread and cooking oil.
Jason Rezainan contributed from Tehran.