Theoretical Principles of Sanctions Related to Iran's Nuclear Program: A Comparison Between Diplomacy Under Trump and Obama

Document Type : Research Paper



In international relations, those who impose sanctions have different motives for using this tool. A change in the US government's policy toward the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or the JCPOA, is a notable issue in this regard. The question asked by the present article is: Where was the theoretical point of departure for the difference in sanctions diplomacy under US President Donald Trump and his predecessor Barack Obama toward Iran despite its commitment to the terms of the agreement? The article's hypothesis is that while the Obama administration's sanctions policy was more based on a motivation to make Iran committed to conforming to international norms, the Trump administration's main objective is to advance US interests as far as possible regardless of international legal restrictions. From this perspective, the nuclear deal was considered effective by the Obama administration, while the Trump administration regards it as ineffective. The hypothesis is theoretically based on realism and liberalism theories about the function of sanctions in international relations and has been studied here using an analytical-explanatory model and reliable data.


Main Subjects

کالاهان، پاتریک (1387) منطق سیاست خارجی آمریکا: نظریه‌های نقش جهانی آمریکا، ترجمه داود غرایاق زندی، محمود یزدان‌فام، و نادر پورآخوندی، پژوهشکده مطالعات راهبردی.
مورگنتا، هانس جی. (1379) سیاست میان ملت‌ها، ترجمه حمیرا مشیرزاده، وزارت امور خارجه، چاپ دوم.
Elliott, Kimberly Ann (2005) Trends in Economic Sanctions Policy: Challenges to Conventional Wisdom, in: Peter Wallensteen and Carina Staibano (eds.), International Sanctions: Between Words and Wars in the Global System, London & New York: Routledge.
Hoffman, Frederick (1967) The Function of Economic Sanctions: A Comparative Analysis, Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 4, No. 2.
Schrijver, Nico J. (1994) The Use of Economic Sanctions by the UN Security Council: An International Law Perspective, in: Harry H. G. Post (ed.), International Economic Law and Armed Conflict, Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Doxey, Margaret P. (1987) International Sanctions in Contemporary Perspective, New York: St. Martin's Press.
Damrosch, Lori F. (1993) The Civilian Impact of Economic Sanctions, Lori F. Damrosch (ed.), Enforcing Restraint: Collective Intervention in Internal Conflicts, New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press.
Lacy, Dean and Emerson M. S. Niou (2004) A Theory of Economic Sanctions and Issue Linkage: The Roles of Preferences, Information, and Threats, The Journal of Politics, Vol. 66, No. 1.
Schepp, Matthias and Cornelia Schmergal (July 21, 2014) The Boomerang Effect: Sanctions on Russia Hit German Economy Hard, Translated by Charles Hawley, Spiegel Online.
Samore, Gary et al (June 2015) Sanctions Against Iran: A Guide to Targets, Terms, and Timetables, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School.
Rosenberg, Elizabeth et al (April 2016) The New Tools of Economic Warfare: Effects and Effectiveness of Contemporary U.S. Financial Sanctions, Center for a New American Security.
Obama, Barack H., interview (April 1, 2016) Press Conference by President Obama, 4/1/2016, The White House,
Seif, Valiollah, interview (April 15, 2016) Iran Seeks Access to Its $100 Billion via U.S. Financial System, Bloomberg,
Lorber, Eric B.  (November 16, 2016) President Trump and the Iran Nuclear Deal, Foreign Policy,
Kerry, John (January 5, 2017) Exit Memo from Secretary Kerry to President Obama, U.S. Department of State,
Trump, Donald J (May 8, 2018) Remarks by President Trump on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, The White House,
Trump, Donald J (October 13, 2017) Remarks by President Trump on Iran Strategy, The White House,
Holland, Steve (January 12, 2018) Trump Issues Ultimatum to 'Fix' Iran Nuclear Deal, Reuters,