Q&A: Will Iran nuclear sanctions work?
As a debate over Iran nuclear sanctions take front stage at the G8 meeting in Quebec today, The Monitor looks at how effective past sanctions have been and what new measures are being considered.
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Very little. Analysts agree that the Security Council's previous sanctions have not prevented Iran from making progress in its nuclear program.Skip to next paragraph
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The IAEA said in 2009 that Iran had accumulated enough low-enriched uranium to make one nuclear bomb if it was much more highly enriched. In September, Iran said it had constructed a second uranium-enrichment plant unknown to international inspectors. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced in February that Iran had completed its first batch of 20 percent enriched uranium, and had the capability to produce weapons-grade uranium, although he said Iran had not done so.
Iran insists the highly enriched uranium is for use in a medical reactor, but experts say that enriching uranium to such a level is an important step on the way to producing weapons-grade uranium, which must be enriched to 90 percent. A February IAEA report confirmed that Iran had enriched uranium to 20 percent and that the IAEA could not rule out "current" work on weaponization.
What new sanctions are being considered?
Before the Iranian elections last year, Washington had made several diplomatic overtures to Iran. But now the equation has changed.
"The Obama administration certainly doesn't want to pursue measures that could slow the momentum of the green movement or provide the Ahmadinejad government a pretext for its profound economic mismanagement," says Karim Sadjadpour, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
While Russia has shown increasing willingness to support new sanctions, China remains opposed. Both nations hold veto power. Iran is the second-largest supplier of oil to China, which has large investments in Iran's energy sector.