President Obama's ability to sell any nuclear deal with Iran depends heavily on the idea that sanctions could quickly be "snapped back" if the agreement is violated, restoring the leverage needed to bring Tehran back into line.
Iran is insisting on the immediate termination of the complex array of sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union and the U.N. Security Council as its price for agreeing to limits designed to impede the development of a nuclear weapon. But that's a tough sell in Washington, where most members of Congress see sanctions as the only effective leverage to prevent Iranian cheating and are skeptical that the framework for a final deal announced April 2 will meet the goal of preventing Iran from ever becoming a nuclear-armed nation.
But experts have noted that once the complex web of restrictions crafted after more than a decade of effort is unraveled, it may be impossible to effectively re-create it amid a wave of lucrative new business opportunities made possible by Iran's reintegration into the global economy.
"I call the 'snap-back' sanction a delusion," said Mark Dubowitz, an analyst who has written extensively on the issue of Iran sanctions. "It will run into a wall of human greed."
Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said that although the most recent sanctions did not keep Iran from developing its nuclear program, it did bring the country's economy to the brink of collapse. Eliminating them too quickly would make a nuclear deal impossible to enforce by reducing international leverage on Iran's economy, he said.
"Most of the sanctions that target Iran are hybrid sanctions," Dubowitz said. "They cover the whole range of Iran's illicit behavior. You can't separate them."
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