What struck me last week, though, was the statement of the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, highlighting the fact that the sanctions are hitting ordinary Iranians rather than the political elite. "The sanctions have had significant effects on the general population, including an escalation in inflation, a rise in commodities and energy costs, an increase in the rate of unemployment and a shortage of necessary items, including medicine," he said in a report.
At the risk of sounding callous, isn't that the entire point? Diplomats are fond of talking about sanctions only being aimed at hurting a country's elite. But it has been pretty clear from the experience in Iraq, Burma and elsewhere, that sanctions targeted against named individuals don't do much beyond stopping them travelling abroad or holding foreign bank accounts.