Will more sanctions against Iran work?

Jeremy Hobson Sep 25, 2009

Will more sanctions against Iran work?

Jeremy Hobson Sep 25, 2009


KAI RYSSDAL: Iran’s previously secret nuclear facility sucked all the air out of the room at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh today. President Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy made an early morning appearance in front of the microphones to tell us about it. They said Iran has until December to reveal all of its nuclear programs or face new sanctions.

So here we go again, the international community trying to coax Iran into coming clean about its nuclear ambitions by threatening economic sanctions.

Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson has more.

Jeremy Hobson: The United States first imposed economic sanctions against Iran in 1979. And the results are hard to quantify.

This is Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Ray Takeyh: Since 1979, Iran has had double-digit inflation and double-digit unemployment. So it’s hard to say whether that’s the result of international sanctions and international pressures or is it Iranian mismanagement and inability to have a coherent economic program?

And many experts say the sanctions in place now are full of holes, because countries continue to trade with Iran by sending goods through Dubai. Takeyh says Iran’s economy is forecast to grow 2 percent this year. And he says truly effective sanctions wouldn’t be too pleasant for the rest of us.

Takeyh: Well, if you want to push it to the ultimate level, you can impose an embargo on the country and prevent it from selling oil. It’s hard to see that coming about, it’s hard to see international community agreeing to it.

And even if countries did agree, Karim Sadjadpour says it may not have the desired effect. He’s an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Karim Sadjadpour: The priority of the Iranian regime has never been the economic well-being of the Iranian people.

So he says there’s not much likelihood that sanctions will force Iran to change course on the nuclear issue.

Sadjadpour: But what we may see is that these economic punitive measures may be able to play a role in facilitating some type of a major political reform in Iran.

Reform that Sadjadpour says is still bubbling under the surface, just a few months after those massive protests over the legitimacy of the Iranian elections.

I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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