Why GOP Presidential Hopefuls Miss the Point on Iran’s Nuclear Program

The price paid by ordinary Iranians for their country’s nuclear program is rising as sanctions bite at their standard of living. The past year has seen rents soar; electricity bills have doubled; meat and fresh fruit, even vital medicines, have become luxury items; and the national airline has become unsafe and inconvenient, with sanctions blocking refueling access at Western airports and the sale of replacement parts for its fleet of aging American planes. The choking effects of economic sanctions are being felt, in different ways, from the low-slung apartment blocks of south Tehran all the way to the gauche penthouse towers of the capital’s north. But despite the decline in living standards accelerated by economic isolation, Iranians remain remarkably united behind the country’s nuclear program.
The debate has not, however, remained static. A side discussion is emerging among activists, academics and businesspeople about the growing costs of the nuclear program. One group of mostly exiled Iranian dissidents last week put out an open letter urging Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment. But no major opposition figure has taken this position publicly, and the debate over the cost of nuclear defiance is largely confined to elites, according to Dolatshahi of BBC Persian service.
“The discussion right now has passed the point of ‘Should we have it or not?’ or ‘Does the world have the right to dictate us?’,” says Mehdi Yahyanejad, the founder of Balatarin,…

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