Why sanctions on Iran aren’t working?

NIAC President Trita Parsi and Research Director Reza Marashi will present the findings of their report on Iranian sanctions together with an analysis of the dynamics at play in the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1.


Trita Parsi, President, National Iranian American Council

Reza Marashi, Research Director, National Iranian American Council

Chaired by

Daniel Levy, Head of the Middle East and North Africa programme, ECFR


Despite sanctions described as “the toughest, most crippling sanctions ever” by US President Obama, the stand-off between the West and Iran over its nuclear policy trajectory remains. Is this failure due to the sanctions not being tough enough, or not having been applied for long enough to have the desired effect?  Neither- according to a new report by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). The lead authors of that report, NIAC President Trita Parsi and Research Director  Reza Marashi, will present their findings at ECFR together with an analysis of the dynamics at play in the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 and the political context in which those talks are taking place – in Washington, Tehran and Europe. 

Parsi and Marashi, both based in Washington DC, argue that the economic pain that Iran has experienced has been intense but directionless, failing to break the Iranian government's narrative depicting the West as singularly focused on suppressing Iran's technological progress or offering a compelling exit strategy. Sanctions are also failing to produce internal pressure on the government by key stakeholders to shift its nuclear stance.

Trita Parsi is the President of the National Iranian American Council and an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian foreign politics, and the geopolitics of the Middle East. He has served as an adjunct professor of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University, an adjunct scholar the Middle East Institute and as a Policy Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.  Parsi is the author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States and A Single Roll of the Dice-Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran.

Reza Marashi is the Research Director at the National Iranian American Council. Prior to that, Marashi worked for four years in the Office of Iranian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Before joining the State Department, he was an analyst at the Institute for National Strategic Studies covering China-Middle East issues, and a Tehran-based private strategic consultant on Iranian political and economic risk.

Daniel Levy is the Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at ECFR. He is also a Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, and a founding co-editor of foreignpolicy.com’s Middle East Channel. Levy was a former Israeli official peace negotiator and adviser in the PM’s office.