Would Further Economic Sanctions Against Iran Ever Stop Its Nuclear Weapons Development?
My short answer is YES but it will all depend on a number of factors including but not limited to the intensity of those sanctions.
So far, the new sanctions are wreaking havoc on the Iranian economy, which relies on oil exports for about 8% of its public revenue. But while the economic impact of sanctions is becoming apparent, the political impacts have not yet crystallized.
One of the most pressing problems in Iran today is inflation. Inflation is not a new problem in Iran, due in part to sanctions in recent years that have resulted in disrupted supply chains and higher operating costs. But spiraling inflation is being felt by ordinary Iranians like never before. Recently, Iran’s Central Bank reported inflation to be at 22.2 percent, although economists say this figure is grossly underestimated. In one week alone, the price of chicken rose 30% and the price of vegetable almost 100%. Prices are unstable, budgets are being stretched thinner and thinner, and people are seeing the value of their savings quickly disappear.
The value of the Iranian Rial, which had already fallen in value by about half against foreign currencies since last year, has depreciated even more rapidly lately. The situation is exacerbated by the presence of a growing speculation market. Iranians increasingly demand U.S. dollars because sanctions have obstructed the transfer of money to foreign banks.
The efficacy of sanctions is a contentious subject in general, and there is much debate as to whether the current sanctions will be enough to change the Iranian regime’s tune regarding its nuclear program. Many think that a state as ideological as Iran will manage to convince its citizens to withstand the hardship. Some insist that the sanctions are causing Iranians to blame the West, rather than their own government, for economic hardship. Others argue that the Iranian regime is resilient enough to not buckle under Western sanctions and that the government is unlikely to back down in the face of domestic pressure.
You could of course implement further crippling sanctions against Iran, but you would need the cooperation of the world to do it. Sanctions do work indeed – as they already are – but any U.S. president would have a hard time implementing effective sanctions without China and Russia. These countries don’t seem completely interested, so I doubt it would happen.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that sanctions are rarely useful at guiding policy without careful consideration. In cases like South Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone, sanctions didn’t change the elites policy, but negatively impacted the lives of those who had no control of their states policy.
On maybe a more important note, what would it take for the talks regarding the Iranian nuclear program to be successful – if that is ever possible?
Four scenarios I see
1. The USA / Israel somehow agree that it isn’t nation threatening for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.
2. Or Iran could decide that it will go along with any scenario of verification as long as it gets to develop nuclear energy.
3. Or a serious rapprochement between Iran and Israel – for reasons beneficial to both.
4. Or a way more serious military / political / economic issue that forces this particular issue on the back burner.
All not happening anytime soon hence in my personal opinion no deal or worse a bad deal no matter how you slice it.
Share your thoughts….