December 12, 2020

How US Sanctions Are Pushing Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea Closer Together

By Jason Bartlett and Emily Jin

Three of the most heavily sanctioned states – Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela – are strengthening their strategic partnerships as U.S. sanctions continue to squeeze their finances. In recent years, this emerging coalition has sought enhanced military, intelligence, economic, and cybercrime collaboration in evading U.S. sanctions. With sophistication and growth, these countries could become more adept at evading sanctions and expanding military capabilities that threaten U.S. national security. Moreover, sanctions-induced humanitarian repercussions incur immense reputational costs for the United States and can bolster anti-American rhetoric, which legitimizes the regimes to their populations. American policymakers should consider how to adapt sanctions implementation to undercut the hostile coalition of sanctioned nations and their growing ability to harm U.S. security interests and threaten the safety of our allies.

American policymakers should consider how to adapt sanctions implementation to undercut the hostile coalition of sanctioned nations.

U.S. policy vis-a-vis Iran has not effectively deterred Iran-North Korean collaboration in weapons development, a trend that is true with and without the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The two autocratic states always had shared distrust in American foreign policy, and were pushed closer together once the Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA and ramped up sanctions. North Korean diplomat Ri Yong Ho remarked during a visit to Iran in 2018 that U.S. policy on Iran makes it “untrustworthy and unreliable,” and that Iran and North Korea had “always had close views” on many issues. This enmity toward the United States at the highest level manifests in almost every aspect of North Korean-Iranian interaction.

Read the full article in The Diplomat.

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