An especially depressing piece by the FDD’s Emanuele Ottolenghi, in the past a staunch supporter of international sanctions efforts against Iran who issues regular updates on their implementation, has brought us back to the issue today (sooner than we intended).
Ottolenghi, all too aware of the decade-long cat-and-mouse game with Tehran- but apparently tiring of it – adds his voice (perhaps unwittingly) to critics, questioning whether sanctions are even the right tool for ongoing coercive diplomacy efforts against Iran– and claiming that “Iran is going about its business as if nothing much happened.”
Please. While we understand the frustration– the sanctions effort has always been about perseverance and implementation– as we’ve pointed out in the past, Iran is definitely not behaving as if there are no sanctions. For one, it continues to beg for sanctions relief – an achievement which definitely needs to be leveraged more astutely, but at the same time it certainly shouldn’t be scoffed at.
Beyond that, one area which perhaps deserves more attention when examining sanctions’ impact is their contribution to non-proliferation efforts. For while Iran continues its attempts to smuggle equipment and materiel for its WMD program – as recently documented concerning Germany, Switzerland and the UK– by the same token vigilance has grown incrementally over time. That’s how they got to be documented in the first place.
Non-proliferation is not the only concrete area assisted by anti-Iran sanctions. David S.Cohen, US Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, recently pointed out that sanctions are harming Tehran’s ability to support Syria’s Bashar Assad, Hezbollah, and Hamas.
We must reiterate, sadly, that the centrifuges continue to spin. But it would be wrong to write off sanctions’ impact on the WMD program altogether. Hang in there, Ottolenghi!