Gates Lauds Iran Sanctions, But What Do They Accomplish?

Sanctions Give Legal Basis for More Sanctions

Speaking at the Pentagon Secretary of Defense Robert Gates lauded the UN sanctions against Iran, saying they had been “more effective and more severe” than anyone had expected.

Exactly how this is the case is unclear, as Secretary Gates’ only specific comments were that the sanctions “provided a legal platform” for even harsher sanctions in the future. Yet this is hardly a surprise. What then did the sanctions really accomplish?

Seemingly very little. It appears to have done damage to Iran’s civilian economy, weakened the opposition, and given well connected firms within Iran a number of new business opportunities in circumventing the sanctions.

As for the stated goals of the sanctions, which were to get Iran to abandon its civilian uranium enrichment program, exactly nothing has happened in this regard. Iran continues to rule out doing so, and despite the ever more outlandish threats it seems this program is going on relatively unfettered, and with the legal oversight of the IAEA, who continues to verify the non-diversion of materials for any non-civilian purpose.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.