Sanctions Are Only a Stop-Gap

(Foreign Affairs) Patrick Clawson - Western sanctions against Iran have succeeded in one crucial way - bringing Iran back to the negotiating table. Tehran's decision to reenter discussions about the future of its nuclear program represents a dramatic about-face. During the January 2011 round of negotiations, Tehran rejected any talk of its nuclear program. Even if sanctions could somehow decimate Iran's economy, there is still no guarantee that the regime would end its pursuit of nuclear technology. Given Iran's poor track record of honoring agreements, negotiations remain a gamble because they may never lead to an agreement, let alone one that can be sustained. Rather than focus on talks that may not produce a deal, then, the U.S. should place far more emphasis on supporting democracy and human rights in Iran. A democratic Iran would likely drop state support for terrorism and end its interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries such as Iraq and Lebanon, improving stability in the Middle East. And although Iran's strongly nationalist democrats are proud of the country's nuclear progress, their priority is to rejoin the community of nations, so they will likely agree to peaceful nuclearization in exchange for an end to their country's isolation. The writer is director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2012-05-10 00:00:00

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