Will U.S. Sanctions Snapback Force Iran Out of the NPT?

As U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook made clear in his recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, if the United States fails to secure an extension to the arms embargo against Iran that expires in October, it is willing to try and force the reimposition of UN sanctions on Iran.

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Setting aside questions over the legality of such an attempt, it is simply bad policy. It is unlikely to do much to achieve its stated goal of preventing Iranian conventional arms purchases (already a relatively low risk). It will deepen the rift between the United States and Europe. It will undermine the credibility of the United States and the Security Council. And it will facilitate the expansion of Iran’s nuclear program.

Missing from Mr. Hook’s analysis is any serious consideration of these risks or the potential Iranian reaction. This is short-sighted: Iran might not get a “vote” at the UN Security Council, but it certainly gets to respond. On this front, Iran has threatened its own “nuclear option” if UN sanctions are reimposed: Abandon the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). This would pave the way (legally, at least) for Iran to produce nuclear weapons. Iran would be only the second country to ever withdraw from the NPT, the other being North Korea.

Read the full analysis on CSIS.org

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