Can sanctions stop Iran’s nuclear program?

 In Iran

Via the National Iranian American Council’s niacINsight blog, Bloggingheads offers a debate about whether sanctions would be effective in stopping Iran’s nuclear program:

As we’ve pointed out again and again, there is currently no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon, or has the capability to build one in any short span of time. Jacqueline Shire points out that sanctions would be a more favorable option than war, but doesn’t compare the efficacy of sanctions to pursuing direct negotiations with Iran.  Many in Congress adhere to the misguided notion that harsh sanctions alone are a diplomatic move, and gravitate toward them out of a compulsion to do “something” about Iran. There were several efforts to enact sanctions against Iran in the previous Congress, most notoriously Rep. Gary Ackerman’s (D-NY) H. Con. Res. 362, which died in committee thanks to the efforts of Peace Action West and other grassroots groups. The Iran hawks in Congress will keep their efforts going this year, with stopping gas exports to Iran as a probable approach to try to squeeze Iran (in the video, they discuss why this isn’t likely to work).

Jeffrey Lewis brings up the important point that sanctions are not likely to change Iranian behavior, and may very well rally Iranians around Ahmadinejad. While President Obama and other key people in his administration have said positive things about engaging diplomatically with Iran, he has expressed some openness to harsher sanctions. We are going to have to continue our momentum to thwart sanctions efforts in Congress and create the political space for the Obama administration to engage in direct diplomacy with Iran.

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