Potential Progress In Iranian Nuclear Talks
On Monday a fourth round of talks between Iran and six other nations, including the US, over the regimes ongoing nuclear program. Placed on the table was a proposal to lessen economic sanctions against Iran in return for steps toward the regime complying with United Nations resolutions that would require Iran to cease its enrichment efforts.
While expectations for a resolution remain low, there was a positive development when Saeed Jalili, the secretary for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, characterized the proposal as a more “realistic approach” from the West and a sign of a desire to build confidence between the negotiators.
Skepticism Of Iranian Motives Persist
Many remain skeptical of Iran’s receptiveness to the overtures. The Washington Post echoed that view in an editorial in which it noted that “Tehran has avoided crossing Israel’s red line for military action by keeping its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium below the quantity needed for a bomb, but it has also begun installing a new generation of centrifuges, which could move it much closer to a breakout capacity.”
Are Sanctions The Right Policy To Affect Change In Iran?
Ty McCormick is skeptical of the contribution economic sanctions can have to changing the Iranian regime’s posture arguing in Foreign Policy that advocates of a more aggressive sanctions policy against Iran ignore the failures of the past.
For sanctions to affect the behavior of Iran and other rogue nations, McCormick says they must be “deployed in conjunction with other coercive methods (read: war),” but so far have had “a pretty abysmal track record of altering states’ behavior.”
He continues citing other instances where sanctions did not produce their desired result, including their failure to dissuade Benito Mussolini from invading modern-day Ethiopia in the mid-1930s, Saddam Hussein from invading Kuwait in 1990, and have done little to persuade North Korea not to conduct its third nuclear test in violation of U.N. sanctions.
Sanctions Have An Impact, But Do They Affect Behavior?
A recent report from the General Accounting Office did find that as a result of sanctions “the Iranian economy has consistently underperformed the economies of comparable peer countries across a number of key economic indicators since 2010, when recent sanctions were enacted. In contrast to its peers, Iran’s oil production, oil export revenues, and economic growth estimates have fallen, and its inflation has increased.”
However, while the Iranian economy – and its citizens – may be feeling the brunt of the pain, the government has yet to slow down its pursuit of nuclear weapons capabilities.
Punitive Sanctions Policy Should Be Abandoned, Some Argue
In the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Kaveh L. Afrasiabi expresses his belief that the entire sanctions policy should be reevaluated in favor of a less punitive approach.
Afrasiabi, a former professor at Tehran University, contends the US should adopt a more “realistic approach that recognizes that Iran’s nuclear ambition is not to turn into a North Korea, but rather into another Japan or Brazil — that is, into a country that enjoys its right, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to possess a full nuclear fuel cycle without facing external backlash.”