December 18, 2014

No need for new sanctions on Iran

By Ilan Goldenberg

As the 113th Congress wraps up and the new Congress prepares for the start of 2015 it is evident that one of the central early debates on foreign policy will revolve around new sanctions on Iran.  The sanctions regime imposed by Congress and implemented by the Obama administration played a significant role in bringing Iran to the table and getting an agreement on the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPOA).  However, new sanctions now would be poorly timed and reduce the probability of a positive outcome. 

First, new sanctions at this moment are likely to lead to less flexibility from the Iranian negotiators.  Sanctions are a useful stick to bring a party to the table, but to be used effectively they must be a stick that can be credibly lifted.  One of the major challenges in the current negotiations is that the Iranians do not believe that even in the event of a deal the United States Congress will ever lift sanctions.  This is particularly true of the ultimate decisionmaker in Tehran –Supreme Leader Ali Khameini – who is a notoriously suspicious of the United States.  New sanctions now would only reconfirm his worst suspicions. 

Read the full op-ed at The Hill.

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