January 23 2014
photo by Reuters/Denis Balibouse
This commentary appeared on The National Interest on January 23, 2014.
The U.S. Senate is considering new sanctions against Iran, despite the Geneva agreement between Tehran and the P5+1 (United States, UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany) that started on Jan. 20. For the first time in a decade, Iran has agreed to freeze its nuclear program, and take important steps to constrain its ability to create nuclear weapons, such as eliminating or converting its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium. The new sanctions bill under consideration by the U.S. Senate, which calls for a deal that will “dismantle Iran's illicit nuclear program,” appears to have strong support. Indeed, the measure's backers believe sanctions brought the Iranian negotiators to the table and produced the current U.S. success in Geneva. This is only partially correct.
Sanctions did play a role in facilitating the Geneva agreement, but the election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran's president was also a key factor. And as Rouhani seeks to resolve Iran's nuclear confrontation with the world, new sanctions can only upset the delicate balance he is seeking to establish and maintain at home.