Iran: More sanctions now or wait?

Congress is considering imposing additional sanctions on Iran. The Obama administration wants more time to negotiate. What to do?

My thoughts are that we should let Obama do his job and hold off on new sanctions for now. It appears that we are talking directly with Iran for the first time in decades, they have a new leadership in place*, and we already have crippling sanctions in place. However, I’m OK with giving Obama a time limit-- say 3 months-- to produce signs of progress after which point new sanctions are back on the table again. Pretty soon, though, we’ll have to be running out of new sanctions to impose, no?

*Of course the real power in Iran lies with the Council of Guardians-- unelected clerics headed up by Ayatollah Khamenei.

New sanctions for what? For agreeing to negotiate with the US?

Well, we can’t let them get away with that!

There was a recent meeting where high hopes for an agreement was announced, but no agreement was reached. Some feel that “negotiate”, when translated into Farsi, means “stall for time”.


My view from the bleachers: More sanctions now, or wait? How about neither? If congress imposes sanctions now, it will completely undermine the executive branch’s ability to negotiate any sort of compromise, or even to slow things down, and it will discredit the US to the rest of the world.

Crazy idea, I know, but maybe we can just work out an agreement and forgo further sanctions altogether? Yeah, I’m not hopeful either, but I haven’t entirely given up yet. But I’m not fond of promoting the idea that it’s pointless to talk to the state department or to the president, and that foreign leaders need to work instead with the former car dealership owners in the House.

More sanctions now will just give Iran a persuasive argument in the court of world opinion to justify doubling down on the nuclear option and hinder any future discussion. Almost might as well vote for a declaration of war now and get it over with.

So wait, hope, and don’t undermine your own country’s diplomatic efforts.

The President is the chief diplomat and doesn’t want more sanctions at the moment. Let him have the room he’s asking for on this one.

Another vote for “wait.” Things might actually be moving in the right direction and I’d hate to see that get screwed up.

Okay, I’ll stop being sarcastic.

Yes, I’m aware that there were talks, and that no agreement was reached. The thing is, talks take a long time, whether sides are stalling or not. If you pass sanctions just because you didn’t reach an agreement immediately, you ensure that there will be no more talks— both because you are effectively punishing Iran for talking to you at all, whether you mean to or not,* and because their leaders won’t be able to sell the talks back home. IOW, it’s a stupid idea all round.

*I mean, surely you would concede that, had Iran not agreed to talks in the first place and had just been sitting on their thumbs for the last month, no-one would be considering more sanctions at the moment.


You gotta give your side the elbow room to manuver. Otherwise there’s no point to the talks at all.

Well, we’ve been “talking” about this for years, so I wouldn’t just hand-wave away claims that Iran is trying to stall. I think we are doing something significantly different this time, but I’m not 100% certain of that. Still, I can see where it makes sense to put some sort of deadline on this and not just leave it open-ended.

John, while you’re absolutely right…Khameni’s getting old, and the last decade was a rough one for the Council. They’re feeling the pressure, internally and externally, to at least make the appearance of modernization and some liberalization. Rouhani, while far from liberal, is the sort of compromise candidate that is both acceptable to the Council (if only marginally) and a bone thrown to Iranian youth. He’s smart, he’s charismatic, and he’s a symptom of a slowly-changing Iran. The new leadership, while still under the thump of the Council and Khameni, reflects the new direction that they are willing to bend toward.

I’m convinced that most Iranians, particularly those under 40, love their nation and want to see it take a place on the world stage for real, not as a caricature. I’m not saying there’s any real risk of a “Persian Spring,” but even with absolute spiritual and temporal power, the Council needs the will of the people.

So yeah, what everyone else said. Let the President have his head on this one, with no immediate threat of new sanctions.

Are there any other sanctions the US can unilaterally impose? My impression was that we’d pretty much sanctioned them as much as we physically could even before the current round (which is why we needed Russia and the EU to join).

What specific sanctions is Congress imposing?

I’m fine with waiting…meanwhile, a question for Mr. Netanyahu: where is this proof that Iran is building a bomb? He constantly lectures about the big threat from iran…so where is the evidence?

They’re already under sanctions. Congress is apparently discussing imposing extra sanctions. What the fuck’s the point? The existing sanctions seem to be working; they brought the Iranians to the table in the first place.

The sanctions are supposed to do more than bring them to the table, and they’ve been at the table for years. We’re the ones who just arrived there. As I made clear in the OP, I’m not for imposing more sanctions. But let’s not give Iran more credit than is due at this point.

Compromise? They have the capacity now, if they choose, to rapidly enrich their stock of uranium to weapons grade. I don’t know the status of their ability to make a good trigger but it’s old technology and it was exported out of Pakistan years ago so they may very well have the plans without building one from scratch.

What compromise are you suggesting?

Giving the uranium back?

I don’t see how Iran deserves more sanctions on top of the ones we already have on them. Nothing new has changed except they’re willing (and we’re willing) to talk to them for the first time in a long time. Unless Iran blows someone up, I don’t favor any new sanctions on them. Who exactly in Congress is calling for new sanctions? If its a Democrat, I wonder wtf he’s smoking. If its a Republican, then its probably just to undermine any deal to make Obama look bad

People can have different political opinions from you without smoking something or trying to make Obama look bad. You don’t even know who is calling for more sanctions (or why), and yet you’re willing to dump on them. At any rate, if you read the link I gave up-thread, it’s a Democrat but he’s supported by at least some Republicans.

Looking at the link, I’m pretty sure the “extra sanctions” are basically smoke and mirrors. They’re “a demand” that other countries buy less crude oil. I suspect other countries will tell Congress where they can put their demand, and I’m sure Menendez and other Senators are aware of this.

The US maxed out sanctions on Iran years ago. There are no other unilateral sanctions we can impose.

This is just silly posturing.