Experts Call For Focusing Sanctions On Iran To Increase Effectiveness

(Photo: The Iran Project Report)

A bipartisan group of national security professionals today issued a new report on the efficacy of the current sanctions regime in place on Iran.

In the report, titled “Weighing Benefits and Costs of International Sanctions Against Iran,” the group does not come to a firm conclusion on whether the measures that have been leveled against the Islamic Republic are a net positive, leaving that to the reader of their observations. However, they do note that the current embargoes in place would be more effective if they were to focus in on fewer objectives.

At present, sanctions on Iran of both the national and international variety have a wide-range of policy goals behind them. The most recent rounds of international sanctions from the U.N. have been a result of Iran’s continuing nuclear research program. Those however are built upon both newer sanctions from the United States and other individual state actors and older actions dating back to the Iranian revolution, each with differing goals attached to them.

As the project notes, “sanctions alone are not a policy”:

If resolving the nuclear issue is now the most important objective of the sanctions regime, then sanctions strategies — and the negotiating sanctions associated with sanctions — should be assessed in terms of their effectiveness or likely effectiveness in achieving that objection.

In its findings, the Project presents the positive assessment that sanctions have the effect of demonstrating international support for U.S. policies, reassuring regional allies of the seriousness of U.S. concern, and deterring other states from pursuing nuclear weapons. In addition, the report highlights the sanctions’ weakening of Iran regionally and globally, through the deflating of their economy and relative military strength compared to other actors. Previous U.N. resolutions have implemented a ban on the import and export of military equipment, and the current sanctions have caused the Iranian currency to hit record lows.

The report does not, however, shy away from some of the potential costs that continuing sanctions may bring. Concerns include increased potential for U.S.-Iranian conflict in the Pesian Gulf region and a possible hardening of the long-term alienation between the two states. Also of particular concern to the Project are the humanitarian costs that sanctions bring with them. Iranians are currently suffering from a lack of pharmaceuticals and other items that, while not themselves under embargo, are increasingly difficult to come across for average citizens.

Published by The Iran Project — and signed by such foreign policy luminaries as Leslie Gelb, Paul Pillar, former Republican senator Chuck Hagel, ret. Gen. Anthony Zinni and former Amb. Thomas Pickering — the report is a follow-up to a report earlier this year urging caution against launching military strikes against Iran.