Valdai Paper #84. A Pyrrhic Victory: the History of the Sanctions War Against Iran


The history of sanctions against Iran deserves close analysis in light of the growing sanctions pressure on Russia. Although Iran and Russia are different countries facing different sanctions paradigms, Iran’s experience is meaningful if only because both countries have to contend with US sanction law.

Sanctions have become a powerful tool over the past century, wielded primarily by industrialized countries with advanced economies and technology to attain their foreign policy goals. The US imposed the most sanctions in the 20th and early 21st century: 109 out of 174. America’s economic superiority and leading role in global finance have allowed it to pressure weaker countries into making domestic and foreign policy concessions. The US, which has imposed sanctions on both its rivals and its partners and allies, is the ‘icon’ of sanctions warfare to aspiring countries.

There are also ‘icons’ among the target countries that have more or less adapted to life under long-term sanctions rather than abandoning policies. Iran, one such target country, has unparalleled experience of living under sanctions.

Related articles

Golan Heights: Where Are the Red Lines?
The Golan Heights represent an equal problem for Syria and Israel. During the reign of both Hafez and Bashar Asad, this border was quite quiet (approximately from 1973-1974 till 2015).

Dmitry Maryasis

Expert Opinions
Preventing ‘Somalization’: How Iran Resists Destructive Western Policies in the…
On July 13, 2018, the Valdai Club held an expert discussion on Iran’s regional policy featuring Ali Akbar Velayati, Senior Adviser for International Affairs of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic

Club Events
Iran and the Future of JCPOA: Amid Hope and Fear
In the current situation, it seems that Europeans have understood that although the new US sanctions are aimed mainly at Iran, their impact would go well beyond the Iranian territories, putting at

Hamidreza Azizi

Expert Opinions