Sanctions against Iran likely to be counterproductive
[ Page 38 ]
Washington could further use international sanctions to cut Iran's trading access to the global market, particularly for oil exports, to increase pressure on Tehran to accept assertive IAEA inspections and a stoppage in Iran's nuclear fuel cycle efforts, but that course could suffer from numerous pitfalls. Sanctions would have to be sustained for a prolonged period of time before they began to hurt Iran's economy, and after that time, much like the sanctions implemented against Saddam's regime, they would hurt the livelihood of the general populace more than regime elites. As a consequence the United States might undercut its objective of looking to the Iranian population to usher in a political change in Tehran—under the stress of such international sanctions, the population could rally around the regime rather than taking up political actions against it.
Reviewing the impact of economic sanctions on Iran, analysts have concluded while they did have an effect on their overall economic output, the ruling elite were shielded for the most part from the economic costs and were therefore not compelled to change their behavior or policies.