Carswell, Robert
December 1981
Foreign Affairs;Winter81/82, Vol. 60 Issue 2, p247
Academic Journal
This article discusses the economic sanction imposed by the U.S. on Iran in November 1979. Fifty-two U.S. citizens were taken hostage in Iran on November 4, 1979. Ten days later, in circumstances to be related, U.S. President Jimmy Carter froze all assets of the government of Iran in the U.S. and under control of U.S. banks, businesses and individuals outside the U.S. This action, and related measures taken later, deprived Iran of the use of more than $12 billion in bank deposits, gold and other property. The President also cut off most export and other transactions between the U.S. and Iran and asked the United Nations Security Council to vote similar sanctions. U.N. action was blocked by a Soviet veto on January 13, 1980, but other nations gradually reduced their commerce with Iran. As the hostage crisis dragged on, these sanctions deprived Iran of critical supplies and spare parts and forced it into expensive deals with unreliable middlemen. The objective of the economic sanctions was to help precipitate this type of situation and thus to clarify the thinking of Iran's leaders and assist in forcing a solution. That object was apparently achieved. That objective was apparently achieved. Since nonlethal foreign policy weapons that work are always at a premium, it is worth reviewing this aspect of the Iranian hostage episode for whatever guidance it may provide.


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