Last week, the Obama administration was on the verge of announcing new sanctions on individuals and companies accused of helping Iran develop its ballistic missile program. At the last minute, however, the administration notified Congress that it would be delaying the imposition of these sanctions, without offering any explanation for the delay or a timeline for when it might impose the sanction.
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Editor’s Note: Sanctions are increasingly America’s foreign policy instrument of first resort, promising success without the bloodshed that comes with military force. Iran’s willingness to cut a deal over its nuclear program is likely to make sanctions proponents even more confident. But Peter Feaver of Duke University and Eric Lorber of Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher argue that the United States risks relying too much on sanctions. They contend sanctions’ effects are difficult to predict and the targeting often goes awry.
Even the most vehement critics of the Obama administration’s agreement curbing Iran’s nuclear capabilities, among them Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Senator Tom Cotton, no longer advance the military option for eliminating Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Instead, they argue that a better bargain could have been negotiated, if the Obama administration had not “given away” the leverage awarded by comprehensive economic sanctions.
So the Iran deal is done, and now we can move to debate it. It is very important to note that but for the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, President Obama could have lifted U.S. sanctions today under waivers and related provisions that Congress in the past gave him.