Report: Drop in oil prices not enough to compel Iranian concessions without additional pressure


The recent decline in oil prices will not suffice as economic leverage against Iran, according to a report written jointly by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and Roubini Global Economics (RGE) largely due to sanctions relief from the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA). The analysis, published Wednesday, runs counter to claims made by Obama administration officials. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken has asserted, “New sanctions are unnecessary because…Iran already is under acute pressure from the…existing sanctions regime. In recent months, that pressure has only grown stronger with the dramatic drop in oil prices.” David Cohen, the Treasury Department’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, stated, “[T]he current sustained decline in oil prices is…imposing an additional set of sanctions on Iran”. Therefore, he continued, new sanctions are unnecessary and detrimental.

While the price of oil, Iran’s chief export, has declined about 50% since its peak over the summer, FDD and RGE assess that “[d]eclining oil revenues amplify economic pressure but do little to reverse the near-term benefits of sanctions relief.” Additionally, “the recent growth in Iranian non-oil export earnings and overall better management of the economy by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s team will help cushion the economy against falling oil prices”: therefore, the depressed price “will be insufficient to precipitate the kind of economic crisis that drove Iran to the negotiating table in the first pla

Due to sanctions on its oil industry, Iran has already diversified its economy and will do so more in the future to reduce its dependence on oil revenue. According to The Wall Street Journal, oil makes up only 22% of Iran’s GDP, and non-oil exports have significantly increased. These exports, which include cheap Iranian-made vehicles sold to Iraq and Afghanistan and natural gas-based petrochemicals shipped to China, have risen by 20% in the past eight months. President Rouhani recently proposed reducing reliance on oil revenue even further, from financing 50% of the current budget to just 33%, by substituting it with non-oil exports. Iranian leaders have called for the adoption of a "resistance economy" with greater reliance on domestic producers rather than imports.


In a hearing today, the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa examined the legal implications of the Palestinians’ recent decision to join the International Criminal Court (ICC) and whether the Palestinians are still eligible to receive funding according to U.S. law. Both Democratic and Republican members expressed their frustrations over the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) unilateral bid to join the ICC.

Despite the legal questions surrounding the Palestinian’s ICC move, Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-F.L.) said, “one thing is certain, and that is that the U.S. must suspend all funding to the PA and the administration must seriously redefine its policies toward the PA.”

One of the witnesses, Vice President for Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Jonathan Schanzer, explained how “the goal for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has been the same throughout this campaign: to force the Israelis to relinquish territory or other meaningful concessions, and to do so outside the scope of bilateral negotiations.”

The hearing also emphasized the unprecedented nature of the ICC’s willingness to potentially take up a case against Israel.  Law Professor Eugene Kontorovich declared, “The ICC’s mission is to deal with the world’s worst crimes – with ‘atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity.’”

Danielle Pletka, Senior Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, at American Enterprise Institute said that the ICC probe could question the legitimacy of the Court, and “[h]opefully the ICC prosecutor and others who care about the ICC will resist the temptation to delegitimize the institution by ensnaring it in the political minefield of the Arab-Israeli struggle.”

David Makovsky, Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Congress “the mere investigation of Israel by the ICC is designed to put Israel not just on the defensive, but also to put Israel under a cloud and give a boost to BDS.”

The Palestinians applied for membership to the Court in December of last year, and their membership will be final on April 1. In January, the ICC prosecutor opened a “preliminary exploration” into whether the Court will open an investigation against Israel for allegedly committing war crimes during the last conflict with Gaza.


A novel wearable device, already used on nearly 2,000 patients to slow the growth of cancerous glioblastoma brain tumors using electrical fields, is now being tested to judge its effectiveness against other types of solid tumors.

Novocure Chief Science Officer Eilon Kirson tells ISRAEL21c that the 15-year-old company’s Tumor Treating Fields (TTFields) technology is being tested on ovarian and pancreatic cancer patients and patients with cancers that have spread to the brain.

At the same time, Novocure is involved in trials to see if TTFields can extend the life of even more patients with glioblastoma, the most common form of primary brain cancer in adults. Approximately 10,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year.

“Electric field-based therapy had never been used to treat cancer beyond very local therapies,” Kirson explains. “Treating entire parts of the body this way is a completely novel concept and technology, and there is no other one like it. Novocure owns the entire IP portfolio for the science and the product.”

TTFields therapy, developed by Dr. Yoram Palti, now a retired Technion professor, is delivered via a non-invasive electrode device attached to the patient’s scalp. The low-intensity alternating electric fields have been clinically proven to slow and even reverse tumor growth by inhibiting the process of cells division and replication.

“If you think of standard cancer therapy – surgery, radiation and chemo – TTFields can be considered the fourth modality to be used independently or added to the other modalities to achieve better outcomes,” says Kirson. “As we move forward and do more clinical trials, we believe that it may be widely applicable in many types of cancer.”

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