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Toyota Gets Political, Stops Exports To Iran

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On: Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 9:21AM | By: Chris Weiss

Toyota Gets Political, Stops Exports To Iran

In 2010, there are few entities that have a worse reputation than Toyota. One of those select few is Iran. The Middle Eastern nation is allegedly developing nuclear weapons, much to the displeasure of an international group that includes the U.S., Europe and the United Nations. The nation vehemently denies these allegations, stating that it's nuclear program is for peaceful, energy-related purposes only. It contends that it has a sovereign right to pursue a nuclear energy program without interference from the international community.

Well, the world ain't buyin' that line, and neither is Toyota. A CNN report last week indicates that it has ceased exports to Iran, a move that analysts say is largely symbolic and meant to strengthen the message to the nation.

In June, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution in favor of Iran sanctions, with 12 out of 15 nations on the Council supporting it. The sanctions aimed to hobble key Iranian economic sectors like the energy, transportation, military and financial sectors. The U.S. followed up weeks later with a list of even stricter sanctions, signed by President Obama on July 1. Those sanctions were an additional set of restrictions dissuading U.S. financial and gasoline companies from doing business with Iran. At the time of passage, President Obama called the new sanctions, passed under the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act. the toughest ever passed by the U.S. Congress.

The goal of U.S., European and U.N. sanctions is to get Iran to the negotiating table to work toward the dissolution of its nuclear program. Media pundits and analysts have expressed deep doubt that the sanctions will work in convincing Iran to end its nuclear program. In fact, the U.N. sanctions in June marked the fourth such set of Iran sanctions in recent years, indicating that sanctions are not deterring Iran in its goals.

Earlier this week, news reports stated that two Iranian dissidents had offered their own arguments against the efficacy of sanctions. They argued that the sanctions only hurt the lower social classes in Iran and are actually helping President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad consolidate power.

Toyota is one of the latest voice to step in with its own sanctions, ceasing vehicle imports in the country back in June. Toyota's move is seen as more of a self-serving, symbolic message than a concrete one because the company only sent 222 vehicles to Iran from January to May, and about that number in the entire 2009 year. Sales have slid sharply in Iran over recent years, while the U.S. remains Toyota's largest market. The move, therefore, won't hurt Toyota's business very much, but will appease the U.S. government.

No American manufacturers export to Iran, but some European automakers including BMW and Mercedes-Benz do.

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