Part of the current U.S. strategy in forcing Iran to divulge more about and rein in its nuclear program is the use of economic sanctions. Rather than forcing a new conciliatory posture from Iran, former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker believes a new wave of U.S.-imposed unilateral sanctions could instead have a chilling effect on efforts to diplomatically solve the standoff.
“Sanctions are easy to do, and afterwards we can tell ourselves that, ‘By God, we’ve really stuck it to them,’” Crocker said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “But it seems to me that the more you press this regime, the more they dig in.”
In his role as a member of The Iran Project, a bipartisan expert panel examining the Iranian nuclear standoff, Crocker signed a report issued last month that stressed many of the same points as in his L.A. Times interview. “The United States should now dedicate as much energy and creativity to negotiating directly with Iran as it has to assembling a broad international coalition to pressure and isolate Iran,” the report suggested, noting that the current sanctions strategy has the potential to backfire.
Secretary of State John Kerry sought to stress a similar view to Congress in April, asking the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to delay any new sanctions push until at the very least after Iran’s upcoming presidential elections. “There’s an enormous amount of jockeying going on, with the obvious normal tension between hard-liners and people who want to make an agreement,” Kerry explained during a committee hearing. “We don’t need to spin this up at this point in time. … You need to leave us the window to try to work the diplomatic channel.”