FP writes Iran is adopting resistance economy strategy to minimize sanctions impact

February 16, 2021 - 17:33

TEHRAN- Pursuing maximum pressure strategy to inflict more pain won’t cause Tehran to negotiate with the U.S. or halt its nuclear activities, according to Foreign Policy magazine.

As the Joe Biden administration is seeking to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, much of the debate has centered on whether the U.S. government will lose leverage. Some experts and officials argue that if the Biden administration returns to the JCPOA, the United States will squander the leverage built in recent years through former President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign. 

While U.S. sanctions have hurt Iran’s economy and restricted Iran’s access to financial resources, they have not succeeded in changing Tehran’s behavior concerning its nuclear program. Instead, it has encouraged Iran to boost its nuclear activities, missile program, and regional activities. 

The magazine says a leverage is only effective if it produces desired policy outcomes. It also acknowledges that inflicting pain or adding pressure is neither an effective nor sustainable negotiating strategy. 

Foreign Policy argues, “By reviving the nuclear accord, the U.S. government will not squander any sanctions leverage, but if it plays its cards wisely, it could enhance its position for follow-on negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program and regional activities.”

In response to the maximum pressure effort, Tehran sought to increase its own leverage. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has increased its naval military drills in the Persian Gulf, signaling it has ability to harm U.S. interests and those of its allies. 

The U.S. conservative magazine reports, “Iranian officials indicated in January that they would expand their nuclear program by resuming uranium enrichment to a 20 percent level, which is much higher than the low-level 3.67 percent limit set by the 2015 deal.”

It explains Iran’s strategy to resist the sanctions. “To minimize the impact of sanctions and U.S. leverage, Iran has focused on investing in a resistance economy infrastructure to diversify the economy in ways that it will be more inward-looking and less reliant on foreign trade, particularly with the West. Today, Iran is nowhere near the brink of collapse. The country, rather, is projected to see an economic recovery in 2021,” it wrote.

In 2020, the Trump administration sought to bury the Iran nuclear deal for good. Biden is determined to breathe new life into the pact. 

Foreign Policy advises the new U.S. administration to “return to the deal with a compliance-for-compliance approach because it can stop Iran’s quickly-growing nuclear program in its tracks. This move would not undermine U.S. leverage but rather enhance it. It would allow the United States to stop the ticking clock on Iran’s nuclear advancements, mitigate the possibility of a military confrontation between Iran and Israel or the United States, and restore multilateral diplomatic efforts.”

The magazine hopes a return to the deal would create an opportunity to reach an “agreement on regional issues and other areas of contention. These issues are critical to the security interests of the United States and its regional partners, and Tehran is unlikely to engage in any talks on these issues unless the JCPOA is restored.”

“An important component of U.S. leverage is sanctions relief. With both sides committed to compliance, lifting sanctions on Iran will not give Tehran an overnight economic boost strong enough to disincentivize further negotiations… as some fear. Non-JCPOA-related sanctions will remain in place, and even with the JCPOA-related sanctions lifted on paper, the practical side of operationalizing trade and transactions will not be swift. Iran would only begin a slow process of economic recovery. But relief will give the United States the upper hand at the negotiating table, exchanging more immediate economic incentives for additional concessions,” the U.S. magazine writes. 


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