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Effectiveness of United StatesLed Economic Sanctions as a Counterproliferation Tool Against Irans Nuclear Weapons Program

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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The use of financial interdiction to disrupt the development of weapons of mass destruction WMD and their components is an option in the so-called counterproliferation tool kit. The effectiveness of economic counterproliferation interdiction operations is frequently debated however, counterproliferation operations have successfully stopped some global WMD illicit trade. What is unknown is the degree to which counterproliferation has inhibited further proliferation of WMD. Understanding the effectiveness of U.S.-led financial interdiction efforts against Irans nuclear weapons program has significant policy implications. U.S. policy makers need to know whether their current financial interdiction operations are effective at stopping or delaying Irans nuclear weapon program. Evidence from the International Atomic Energy Agency indicates that the current U.S. economic counterproliferation strategy against Irans nuclear weapons program failed to slow down Irans nuclear program as uranium enrichment increased despite implementation of further economic sanctions however, evidence indicates the overall counterproliferation strategy eventually brought Iran to the negotiation table, thus temporarily halting further nuclear weapons development. The final result of U.S.-led economic counterproliferation policy, along with the use of other counterproliferation tools, ultimately has been effective at disrupting and temporarily halting Irans nuclear weapons program.

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