The U.S. Sanctions Against Iran: Experience and Eventual Implications

The U.S. Sanctions Against Iran: Experience and Eventual Implications

Timofeev I.N.,

Associate Professor of the Department of Political Theory, MGIMO University; Program Director, Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC),

elibrary_id: 236879 | ORCID: 0000-0003-1676-2221 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2018.04.05

For citation:

Timofeev I.N. The U.S. Sanctions Against Iran: Experience and Eventual Implications. – Polis. Political Studies. 2018. No. 4. P. 56-71. (In Russ.).


The article is focused on the U.S. policy of economic sanctions against Iran. The topic has become a burning issue again after the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA), also known as Iranian nuclear deal. American U-turn on JCPOA means a new wave of sanctions against Iran. It raises the question of future efficiency of sanctions in terms of their ability to make Iran comply with key U.S. political demands. More fundamental question is the one of why sanctions are effective in some cases or periods, while they are useless in the others? Why does a target state comply or resist to comply with the requirements of initiators? We base our hypothesis on the results of the quantitative research of Navin Bapat and his colleagues who used TIES data on 888 sanctions episodes and revealed significance of such factors as sanctions’ damage to economy and the existence of initiators’ coalition. We assume that the success of sanctions is determined by these two conditions among other factors. We examine this hypothesis learning the case of Iran using sanctions’ legislation as a key source. We conclude that in the Iranian case the relation between the damage of sanctions and their political efficiency is non-linear and is well described in terms of “Daniel Drezner’s sanctions paradox” – in case of sanctions against political foes, stronger sanctions do not provide proportionally strong results. We also find a critical role of initiators’ coalition and its sustainability on the efficiency of sanctions. Our analysis predicts poor efficiency of the U.S. sanctions after the withdrawal from JCPOA.

economic sanctions; U.S.; Iran; Russia; JCPOA; initiators’ coalition; damage of sanctions; efficiency of sanctions; UN; U.S. Congress; U.S. President.


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Content No. 4, 2018

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