George Lopez Says Sanctions on Iran Likely to Be Effective

Author: Shannon Roddel

George Lopez

The newly proposed U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran are not weak and watered down but smartly targeted and likely to be effective, according to George A. Lopez, who holds the Hesburgh Chair in Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute and is a faculty member in the Department of Political Science.

This year, Lopez serves as a senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington D.C., writing a book on the future of sanctions. He frequently provides advice and background research to Security Council members and the U.S. government regarding the effectiveness of sanctions, and testified before Congress last year on Iran sanctions. He has been involved in a number of discussions in New York and Washington about this new package of sanctions, about which he notes:

“The new sanctions resolution astutely mixes compulsory and voluntary measures targeted at the diverse economic sectors which bolster Iranian nuclear capacity. These will complicate and may extend significantly the time which Iran is already away from being able to develop an actual weapon.”

Lopez also says that the restrictions on military hardware are extensive. “The measures prohibit Iranian purchase of missiles, naval ships, tanks, artillery and armored vehicles, as well as an array of aircraft, most notably attack helicopters,” he says. “In addition, the draft resolution puts real teeth into the missile system restrictions that first appeared in earlier U.N. resolutions.”

One thing that is different for the council now, compared with earlier eras of sanctions, is the effective implementation of the North Korea sanctions, he adds. “This resolution replicates what has been a rather robust and successful set of guidelines for interdictions and inspections provided in the North Korean sanctions of Security Council Resolution 1874 passed in June 2009,” Lopez says. “As with SCR 1874, the proposal also includes the appointment of a special panel of experts, an action more far-reaching than many observers expected in an Iranian sanctions package.”

Lopez cautions that sanctions will achieve nuclear rollback in Iran only if accompanied by equally targeted diplomacy and incentives. “Past cases of Ukraine, South Africa and Libya illustrate that an astute application of narrowly targeted sanctions are the critical first step of a larger policy process, the second element of which is engaged negotiation between imposers and targets. When the scheme works, the sanctions-stimulated negotiations produce a new set of security guarantees for the target that provide national security without dependence on nuclear weapons,” he says.

A frequent commentator on economic sanctions, Lopez has written or edited six books on sanctions and more than 30 articles, book chapters, and op-eds.

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