Unfreezing Iran – By Omar S. Bashir and Eric Lorber March 1, 2016


And Doing It the Right Way

It makes sense that moderates’ recent electoral triumph in Iran—early results suggest that they have won a majority of seats in the parliament and in the Assembly of Experts—will improve the chances of success for the Iran nuclear deal. Iranian moderates, who generally back President Hassan Rouhani, were an important factor in concluding the deal and are likely to support its continued implementation.

As U.S. policymakers welcome the news that the Obama administration’s signal foreign policy achievement may be on sturdier ground, however, the continued successful implementation of the deal is having important and unanticipated consequences for the United States’ ability to use biting financial sanctions to achieve its foreign policy objectives.

In particular, the nature of the sanctions relief provided as part of the Iran nuclear agreement—which seems less likely to unravel after the election—may actually undermine U.S. sanctions in the future, in part by encouraging foreign companies to re-enter Iranian markets and decrease their reliance on the U.S. financial system. It is worth taking that risk into consideration as some policymakers cheer the outcome of the election and what it may mean for Iranian politics and the future of the nuclear agreement.

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