By: Sevil Mahfoozi on March 16, 2012 The current war rhetoric against Iran and the increased sanctions that have followed it may take some time to “cripple” the Iranian regime. However, while Western powers beat the drums of war and continue to impose harsher sanctions the Iranian people are directly taking the hit. Iran’s envoy to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltani said last week, “The truth is that sanctions have had no effect on Iran’s nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment. In fact, sanctions have affected people’s lives instead of the centrifuges.” While Soltani and other Iranian officials downplay the impact of the plethora of embargos from the U.S. and E.U. it is evident that the people are hurting. Recent financial sanctions have restricted Iran to convert crude oil exports into currency, limiting its access to international finance. Restrictions on trade, banking, shipping, and commodities have greatly impacted Iranian businesses. With rising inflation and the rial’s increasing vulnerability, Iranians are having difficulty affording living expenses. Recently the auto industry announced a 6 to 9 percent increase in car prices in the New Year. A similar increase in prices is seen in most merchandise. Unprecedented spiraling cost of living on flat steady incomes is hurting Iranian families. For months Iranians have been struggling with economic problems due to international condemnation. With high inflation, living conditions of middle class and low-income Iranians have fallen dramatically. Some businesses have been forced to close due to decrease in sales. Fluctuations in Euro and dollar rates have considerably increased the price of necessities such as food and medication. In fact, the price of most drugs has increased 10- 30%. Restriction on imports has caused an even higher increase in prices of more complex drugs such as cancer and heart disease medications, which are also limited in quantity. Prices of Iranian made drugs have also increased because of restrictions on imported ingredients. The current state of the economy has not been favorable especially in the period before the Iranian New Year (March 21), a traditional time for shopping. Businesses are seeing fewer sales and most shoppers cannot afford the high prices. Iranians are cutting expenses and hoping for a more stable economy in the New Year.