(New York Times) | February 18, 2010

NEW YORK — Here’s what happens when a business linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) is targeted with sanctions. A representative of the Revolutionary Guards finds a lawyer in Dubai and says: “Look, I’m on this stupid U.S. Treasury list. I’ll give you 10 percent. Help me set up a shell company in Dubai or Malaysia.”

The Treasury Department enemy list (“Specially Designated Nationals”) is easy to find. It’s at www.ustreas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/sdn/. Revolutionary Guard tycoons in Tehran know that. Once they have a new shell company, say in a cousin’s name, they circumvent the list. They go on reaping the heady profits open to the in crowd when sanctions distort an economy.

Iran has lived with sanctions for a long time; its immune systems are highly developed. As much as 20 percent of the gross national product of Dubai is linked to Iran trade. I don’t see new “targeted” sanctions disrupting this traffic. Iran’s economy, even in a slump, is too big, too diverse and too sophisticated: North Korea it is not.

Read the full piece in The New York Times.