In Pursuit of a Chimera: Nuclear Imbroglio between Sanctions and Engagement

Dr S. Samuel C. Rajiv is Associate Fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Click here for detailed profile
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  • November 2012

    Efforts undertaken to address concerns generated by the Iranian nuclear issue have primarily followed a dual-track approach made up of punitive non-proliferation and economic sanctions at the multi-lateral and unilateral levels and diplomatic-political engagement across the bilateral, tri-lateral and multi-lateral spectrum. These have, however, not been successful in ‘forcing’ cooperation from Iran on core issues of concern, including in such activities as the stopping of uranium enrichment activities. This is in part due to the mutually reinforcing antagonistic nature of the two-track strategy. While Iranian intransigence has attracted increasingly tough punitive measures, these measures have in turn hardened Iranian positions. They have also been hostage to the nature and content of bilateral relationships that Iran shares with its major interlocutors. While Iran's contentious relationship with the US and the UK and the concomitant trust deficit have bedeviled these efforts, sound strategic/economic reasons underpinning Iran's bilateral ties with Russia and China explain these countries’ role as the ‘reluctant enforcers’.