After decades of sanctions and years of negotiations, the permanent members of the UN Security Council (and Germany) have reached a temporary deal on Iran’s nuclear program. Under the agreement, for the next six months, Iran will halt activities that would enable it to make a nuclear weapon and allow international inspectors to dramatically increase their oversight of the program. In exchange, the United Nations and the United States will ease international economic and financial sanctions (including by unfreezing billions in Iranian assets abroad).
Not everyone is happy with the deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it an “historic mistake.” Some lawmakers in Washington have expressed skepticism over whether the deal will actually impair Iran’s ability to pursue a nuclear weapon. And others have argued the decision to ease sanctions is a mistake—that now is actually the time for stricter controls.
Yet both opponents and proponents generally do agree on one thing: the sanctions against Iran worked. Since 2006, the United States, European Union, and United Nations have enacted increasingly tougher economic and financial sanctions on Iran. Economic sanctions included export restrictions on oil, automobiles, and arms. On the financial side, these nations have frozen the assets of Iranian entities and public sector, banks which do business with Tehran, and Iran’s currency. Together these sanctions resulted in significant negative economic consequences for Iran’s economy, including drags on oil revenue and GDP and increases in inflation.