Iran Nuclear Standoff: The Fog of Sanctions

Iran Nuclear Standoff: The Fog of Sanctions

The "fog of sanctions" has descended on Washington, obscuring what this week's proposed U.N. Security Council resolution can accomplish in stifling Iran's drive to nuclear weapons. No less perilous than the "fog of war" that besets generals, the "fog of sanctions" prevents pundits and politicians from having a clear view of the power and potential of this draft document (.pdf), which may be the strongest set of smart sanctions ever developed by the Security Council.

The resolution's first strength is that it undermines real assets and capabilities that Iran might use for weapons production. The document astutely mixes compulsory and voluntary measures targeted at the diverse economic sectors that bolster Iranian uranium enrichment and missile development. These measures will complicate further progress in both areas, and may extend significantly the time that Iran would need to develop an actual weapon.

The measures take direct aim at transportation systems, commercial activity, insurance and licensing, mining ventures and banking. Even though the latter sanctions "call upon" -- rather than require -- states to act, they are particularly far-reaching in suggesting that Iranian banks be prohibited from engaging in new joint ventures or in opening new branches in other nations.

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