Effectiveness of United States–led economic sanctions as a counterproliferation tool against Iran’s nuclear weapons program
Millwee, Joel S.
Russell, James A.
Davis, Zachary S.
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The use of financial interdiction to disrupt the development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their components is an option in the so-called counterproliferation toolkit. The effectiveness of economic counterproliferation interdiction operations is frequently debated; however, counterproliferation operations have successfully stopped some global WMD illicit trade. What is unknown is the degree to which counterproliferation has inhibited further proliferation of WMD. Understanding the effectiveness of U.S.-led financial interdiction efforts against Iran’s nuclear weapons program has significant policy implications. U.S. policy makers need to know whether their current financial interdiction operations are effective at stopping or delaying Iran’s nuclear weapon program. Evidence from the International Atomic Energy Agency indicates that the current U.S. economic counterproliferation strategy against Iran’s nuclear weapons program failed to slow down Iran’s nuclear program as uranium enrichment increased despite implementation of further economic sanctions; however, evidence indicates the overall counterproliferation strategy eventually brought Iran to the negotiation table, thus temporarily halting further nuclear weapons development. The final result of U.S.-led economic counterproliferation policy, along with the use of other counterproliferation tools, ultimately has been effective at disrupting and temporarily halting Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
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