For nearly three decades, the international community has imposed sanctions on Iran as a tactic to alter its behavior. Sanctions are considered an alternative to military action and as a means of minimizing the human and financial losses of war, but policymakers do not routinely address the alternate costs sanctions can impose. The Iran Project recently published a report, “Weighing Benefits and Costs of International Sanctions Against Iran,” to critically assess U.S. and U.S.-led sanctions on Iran. Carnegie hosted a panel with Ambassador William Luers, Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold, William A. Reinsch, and Carnegie’s George Perkovich to discuss the paper’s findings. Ambassador Thomas Pickering moderated.
Reinsch noted that, for the most part, sanctions have not yet enabled the United States to achieve its policy objectives in Iran. In part, Reinsch attributes this to the absence of unified objectives given the variety of interested parties in the United States. Nonetheless, sanctions have had an impact on Iran:
Perkovich pointed out that any negotiated resolution to the Iran crisis will necessarily include recognition of Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. The question remains how to build international confidence that Iran will not pursue nuclear militarization. To address this issue, Perkovich emphasized the importance of defining specific nuclear activities in which Iran cannot engage under the peaceful parameters of their program.
Drawing such boundaries, Pickering added, will set an important precedent for the nonproliferation regime for the future.
The Carnegie Middle East Program combines in-depth local knowledge with incisive comparative analysis to examine economic, sociopolitical, and strategic interests in the Arab world. Through detailed country studies and the exploration of key crosscutting themes, the Carnegie Middle East Program, in coordination with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, provides analysis and recommendations in both English and Arabic that are deeply informed by knowledge and views from the region. The program has special expertise in political reform and Islamist participation in pluralistic politics.
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