№84 A Pyrrhic Victory: the History of the Sanctions War Against Iran
Valdai Paper #84
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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.