The US and EU have announced new sanctions in the hope of persuading Iran to abandon its alleged nuclear weapons programme, though how effective these will be is questionable. China, India, Russia, Turkey, Japan, and South Korea have already refused to go along with the new measures. Iran also has the means to evade the sanctions – through its proximity to Iraq.
Iran has often been singled out as the main beneficiary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, as well as the biggest threat to Iraq's stability in the post-Saddam era. Iran's uninterrupted support for Shia militia groups in southern Iraq, particularly the Mahdi army, is seen as one indication of its involvement in Iraqi politics and its ability to cause problems for adversaries.
And yet Iran's key interest in Iraq is less about realpolitik than about trade. Iran is one of Iraq's most important regional economic partners, with an annual trade volume between the two sides standing at $8bn to $10bn (£5bn to £6.4bn). However, it is Iraq's 910-mile border with Iran, and therefore its geographical suitability as a smuggling hub for sanctioned goods, which is of paramount importance to Iran at present.