A book chronciles U.S. sancxtions against Iran
By Bruce Zagaris
Hossein Alikhani's Sanctioning
Iran: Anatomy of a Failed Policy (2000, I.B. Tauris Publishers)
masterfully weaves a colorful discussion of the start and evolution of
U.S. sanctions against Iran. The success of the book is the way it blends
the various components of U.S. sanctions policy towards Iran: history,
diplomacy, economic policy, military policy, the technical evolution of
the laws and administrative sanctions and the way in which U.S. agencies
have enforced their unique sanctions against Iran. The book depicts the
unfolding of each new wrinkle of the sanctions, including the response
by U.S. allies, various legal challenges to the sanctions, both within
and outside the U.S.
The in-depth coverage the book provides is indispensable to an evaluation
not only of how the U.S. arrived at its current Iran sanctions, but also
the likely future of such policies. Starting in 1979, the book paints a
fascinating and detailed story of the sanctions. The discussion portrays
the complex interplay between the U.S. executive, legislative, and judicial
branches at various stages of the process. The book's collection of key
documents, which includes laws, regulations and other documents, and its
annotations and bibliography enable the reader to have a comprehensive
view of the U.S. Iran sanctions.
The book contains ten chapters. The author
traces the increasing use of sanctions as an integral part of U.S. foreign
policy and the interaction between the executive and legislative branches
in the U.S. in formulating and implementing the policies. In this regard,
the imposition of anti-terrorism controls on Iran in 1984 is discussed
and the evolution to the "dual containment" strategy in 1993
is outlined, whereby the U.S. resolved to strictly contain both Iran and
Iraq, whom the U.S. regarded as twin evils.
The effectiveness of the role of the American Israel Public Affairs
Committee (AIPAC) and the leadership role of then Rep. Sen. Alphonse D'Amato
are depicted. President Clinton issued executive orders in 1995 to tighten
the Iran sanctions. The issuance on August 19, 1997 of an executive order
during a lawsuit involving the supply by a General Motors Canadian subsidiary
of locomotives to Iranian Railways further tightened the sanctions. The
author's relation of the behind-the-scenes issuance of a customized executive
order so that the U.S. could win a court challenge illustrates the in-depth
value of the book's research. The easing of the U.S. sanctions against
Iran during 1998 and 1999 are highlighted.
The suspenseful political machinations leading to the enactment by the
U.S. Congress of the Iran and Libyan Sanctions Act of 1996 are captured
as well as the European Union's blockage of their implementation through
its legislative and legal action (e.g., the EU filed a petition before
the WTO), resulting eventually in a negotiated settlement between the U.S.
and the EU.
After discussing the various legal justifications for the U.S. extraterritorial
jurisdiction, especially under the International Economic Emergency Preparedness
Act, the author highlights the U.N. resolution of October 2, 1999, whereby
the General Assembly called for the immediate repeal of unilateral extraterritorial
laws that imposed sanctions. The diplomatic aspects of extraterritorial
applications of sanctions are generally adverse to the U.S.
The book does an excellent job of tracing the scope and extent of the
Iran sanctions (e.g., by tracing the scope and extent of the sanctions)
policy explanations behind the U.S. Iran sanctions Iran's support
for international terrorism; Iran's opposition to the Arab-Israeli peace
process; and the development of weapons of mass destruction (and the missiles
to deliver them).
Bruce Zagaris is a lawyer based in Washington DC.