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The European Union's Counterproductive Iran Sanctions

The Case for Pulling Back


Camera crews stake out the Iranian Embassy in central London before Britain's call for stronger economic sanctions on Iran. (Ki Price/Courtesy Reuters)

By signing on to wide-ranging sanctions against Iran in late January, the European Union made a bet that harsh economic penalties would finally push Iran to  comply with its international obligations, especially that it end its efforts to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level and accept a verifiable inspection regime under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This is a long way from the "critical dialogue" framework the European Union favored throughout the 1990s, when it aimed to normalize ties with Tehran as a way of fostering domestic reform and empowering moderates. It is also a departure from the so-called EU-3 diplomacy of the last decade, whereby France, Germany, and the United Kingdom looked to negotiate a compromise with Iran on its nuclear program on behalf of the

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