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Iran's Costly Nuclear Program

While the Iranian regime continues to beat the drums of rhetoric in attempts to stoke nationalist support, the cost of that rhetoric to ordinary Iranians has been steep.

An estimated $200 billion has left the country since last year's election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president, accompanied by panic buying of gold. The Iranian stock exchange lost an estimated 20 percent of its value even as other bourses in the region rose.

"The most tangible effect of the threat of sanctions in the private sector is downsizing," said Farhad Sanadizadeh, a Tehran-based oil and gas consultant who has let 40 employees go in the past six months. "A lot of companies are not hiring new people and reducing their work force."

Last week, it was disclosed that most European banks are no longer facilitating money transfers from Iranian banks. Iran has already removed most of its capital from European banks, according to press reports, fearing a possible assets freeze.

The article also points to a number who shrug the economic hardships off, present and potential. They were endured during the Iraq war, after all. But one wonders just how prevalent that perspective is among Iran's people. Consider Hamid Abedi.

"Stage by stage [the sanctions process] is starting, and it's all the fault of Ahmadinejad for insisting on us having a nuclear program," said Hamid Abedi, a 45-year-old furniture repairman who supplements his income by driving around in search of fares in the evenings.

"What's the point of us having nuclear energy if we're deprived of everything else?"