EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference 2016 Special Session 12
Chair: Laura Rockwood, Executive Director, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation 
Tarja Cronberg, Distinguished Associate Fellow, SIPRI 
Sico van der Meer, Research Fellow, Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael) 
Charlotte Beaucillon, Assistant Professor, International and EU Law, Panthéon-Sorbonne University

Provisional transcript

Laura Rockwood, Executive Director, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Well, we seem to have somewhat of a critical mass with us here this morning. Thank you all for being here. I’m Laura Rockwood, formerly with the IAEA, currently an Executive Director at the Vienna Centre for disarmament and non-proliferation. And I think we not only have a really interesting subject to discuss, but a very good panel of interested and engaged people. And I have decided that, given that we only have three speakers, I will give them up to 10 minutes so that we have enough time for people to ask questions or to engage in a discussion.

I think sanctions and the efficacy of sanctions is something that has been touched on in many of the sessions we’ve already had so far, and I myself, after all these years, still consider myself a student of sanctions, and I’m very interested in hearing what our three colleagues have to say about sanctions. And we’re going to start off with Tarja Cronberg, then we will have Charlotte speak, and then Sico.

Tarja, as you know, is with SIPRI, and a former member of the European Parliament, and she’s done a lot of work on the Iran case, so Tarja, I’m going to give you the floor first.

Tarja Cronberg, Distinguished Associate Fellow, SIPRI

Thank you. I’m going to start with trying to specify the impact of sanctions, and particularly, the US/EU coordinated sanctions that were approved in 2012, and in effect in 2012/2013, and try to specify what was the effect on the Iran deal. I mean, actually how did the sanctions impact the deal. The second thing I would like to do, I have looked at the EU policies and followed the EU foreign policy in terms of sanctions and I’ll try to raise some of the questions that are related to the EU’s sanctions policy, and which, on the basis of the Iran case, can sort of be further elaborated and should be discussed, and maybe having an impact on the sanctions policy of the future. And since Laura has been so good and given as 10 minutes instead of five, I will also take up two issues which are now playing in the implementation phase and, just to remind you, that sanctions are not only sanctions during the negotiations until the deal, but sanctions exist also after the deal.

So my first question is: what was the impact of the EU/US sanctions on the Iran deal? And there is this common wisdom that the sanctions brought Iran to the table. And this is not true. For the simple reason that Iran was, in 2012, already at the table. There were secret negotiations mediated by the Sultan of Oman, and in 2011, the US and Iran agreed to continue negotiations and actually not only on a bilateral level, but within the context of P5 +1. And so the agreement was made before the sanctions, and actually it was dependent on one factor; and that was the Obama administration’s policy change. The zero-enrichment policy which had been prevailing all the time during the Bush administration also in the first place of the Obama administration was actually cancelled and Obama, through the Sultan of Oman, indicated to the Iranians that a small-scale pilot enrichment would be possible. And also the idea of having to suspend enrichment before negotiations was taken off the table. So, the policies change was the reason for Iran to come to the table.

Secondly, I think we can say that the political will, and the political will of the two presidents, Obama first and President Rouhani who was elected in the summer of 2013, was the critical thing. Without this political will, I would say that the deal would not have been possible. Now, the sanctions did have an effect on this political will, mainly because in the Iranian elections in 2013, the sanctions or the bad situation of the Iranian economy was on the table as the issue in the elections and Rouhani actually said he would fix the economy and the sanctions. So you can say that while the policy change of Obama was the reason for negotiations, and the most important thing that achieved the deal, the political will was the second one. And within this political will, the sanctions did have an impact.

So, the interesting part is now that the Iranians population is, of course, expecting now economic advantages from the sanctions relief, which is an important part. And so far, this has not been forthcoming, and this is where the life after sanctions becomes interesting. But the first test will be the presidential elections next summer. If the reformist pragmatists win, this shows that there is still belief in the deal, and if the hardliners who are using the problems with the sanctions right now to the maximum effect, if they prevail, then we’ll see the consequences for the Iran deal.

But there are three basic questions I would like to raise in relation to EU sanctions policy, and the first is that after 2010 the EU took a dual track approach. It was a dual track sanctions combined with diplomacy, and actually this was a winning alternative. But not due to the sanctions so much as due to the Obama administration’s change of policy, and the fact that the zero enrichment policy was abandoned. So, my first comment is that when looking at the dual track approach, you should not be just blindly looking at the sanctions, but looking at the combination, and particularly looking at the policy changes that are needed for the negotiations to proceed. And I think this is, from my point of view, one of the important messages also for the North Korean case. I mean, look at the policy changes that might be necessary instead of just the sanctions.

Secondly, the EU sanctions are basically targeted. Targeted on persons, targeted on decision-makers, but also targeted on trying to target the programme itself and try to create conditions for the changes. But in the Iran case, we had targeted sanctions against decision-makers, and non-targeted sanctions, economic and financial transaction sanctions, which were very general. First of all the EU says that sanctions should not target the general population. It’s a policy defined by the commissioners that this is not the case; the EU should not target the general population. The targeted sanctions were targeted particularly for the decision-makers and particularly the Revolutionary Guards. And what has happened in the sanctions phase is that the Revolutionary Guards have actually accumulated huge amounts of wealth. They have been the profiteers of the sanctions, because of the shadow economy it created, and this has meant that actually those targeted have had the most benefits of the sanctions. The second group that in Iran that was not targeted was the poor. With the exceptions of the Afghan refugees, the poor have not been suffering so much by the sanctions because of state subsidies.

So the group of people in Iran that has had the toughest time with the sanctions is the middle class. And there is a study made by the International Civil Society Action Network, who documented actually that the social change potential was extremely decimated during the sanctions because of the situation of the middle class. First of all, because people had a tough time meeting economic needs, and, secondly, because the private sector was actually excluded from the economy due to the sanctions, so people, first of all, they had several jobs, no time to participate in political civil society activities, but also because the private sector meant that employment was only available in the state sector, and civil activities were, of course, more prohibited in the state sector. So actually, the situation has been that the organisation International Civil Society Action says that democracy and the rule of law has been the main victim of the sanctions. Well, the report also underscores and states that it’s the women that have borne most of the distress, and, when jobs are scarce, the women are pushed out of the labour market and go into the domestic sphere. Girls don’t have the funds to go to school, and you get child marriages, and also the question of street women, which is not very known in Muslim countries, is coming up.

Let me summarise in three things, and I will come back in the debates on what happens after the sanctions, but I think in terms of sanctions used in relation to the proliferation, I would like to make three points. The first is that the policy changes in negotiations may be more effective than the sanctions. The sanctions are easier to do, and therefore it is very easy. I’m an old politician and so I know that it’s easy to approve sanctions. Secondly, in the aftermath of the Iran deal, I think we should evaluate how effective are the sanctions targeting decision-makers. As I mentioned, the Revolutionary Guards have been the beneficiaries of the sanctions; there’s a whole class in Iran now called the merchants of sanctions, which have accumulated this wealth due to sanctions. So I think within the EU we should look at this targeting of sanctions. And then, the third point is related to the economic disruption caused by sanctions should translate into political pressure. This is the idea. It should create political pressure, which maybe would result at least in a change of government policies but maybe even on the overthrow of the government. And as I mentioned, the question of the middle class in Iran is problematic, and actually the studies document that these have been one of the main victims of the sanctions, and so the reform potential in Iran is not maybe what it should be.

So I think that we have to look at the political consequences of the sanctions more than we do today. Thank you.

Laura Rockwood, Executive Director, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Thank you, Tarja. Over the last week or so I’ve been listening to a number of people talk about the North Korean situation, and one of the comments that was made is that sanctions sometimes can strengthen the resolve of the average person, shoring up support for a regime. So we heard some criticism. One might also think of South Africa, which was subject to sanctions, and decided, well, I’ll go ahead and develop this programme indigenously. So those are some of the downsides.

I took a bit of a straw poll over the last day or two, asking people, what do they think of the efficacy of sanctions, are they effective or not? And what I can say is that they all said that they work, but to a greater or a lesser extent. The most common answer was: that depends. And I think maybe, Charlotte, you can talk to us a little bit about what that might depend on.

Charlotte Beaucillon, Assistant Professor, International and EU Law, Panthéon-Sorbonne University

Thank you very much Laura. I will have maybe a more international law approach to these issues. I think to assess the utility of sanctions it’s useful to ask three questions. What are the sanctions for? To whom are they useful? And in which contexts are the operating? And this is where we have the most divergences between, for instance, the North Korean case and the Iranian case, as you referred very interestingly to policy changes that are needed for sanctions to have a greater effect.

So what are the sanctions for? At least officially, sanctions are labelled as reactions to a breach of the non-proliferation regime. Be they adopted by the United Nations Security Council or unilaterally by the US or the EU, for instance. So, from that perspective, we face a first dilemma with legitimacy and intensity of sanctions. Of course, when you adopt United Nations Security Council Resolutions, you have a greater legitimacy stance. But it’s more difficult to have strong sanctions imposed. On the contrary, when you have unilateral sanctions, you can agree on stronger sanctions on a target, but they are less legitimate. This is quite obvious.

So how do we resolve this kind of conundrum? Law can be one of the indicators that you use with the contestations of the sanctions. And what is very interesting today with targeted sanctions is that the contestation of sanctions mainly comes from individual targets, and we know very well that in the EU, since the EU judicature has been issuing more than 100 rulings annulling the inscription of some targets on the lists, whereas the contestations by state targets are very, very, very few; maybe I can recall one, and it was in the 1980s. It was in the Lockerbie case, and it didn’t lead anywhere because the International Court of Justice just decided it had no jurisdiction to review the legality of sanctions. So this indicates that there is a great room of manoeuvre to design sanctions, as far as international law is concerned, keeping in mind that humanitarian impact of the sanctions has to be contained and the impact on human rights as well. This might be one of the reasons why we discussed that over dinner last night. The EU tends to broaden the scope of sanctions instead of targeting the sanctions, because it is facing judicial contestations in front of the EU judicature.

So maybe two points on sanctions utility or usefulness. As you very rightly pointed to, the first point would be implementation. I mean, we can agree on stronger sanctions for instance in the DPRK case after the last test in September. But we already have Resolution 2270 adopted in 2016 by the United Nations Security Council, with the strongest sanctions ever set on the DPRK. This is already backed up by unilateral sanctions by the EU and the US, broadening the scope and detailing the targets as well as the matters on which we are imposing sanctions. However, the efficiency of the sanctions go through implementation, and we are not monitoring sanctions as effectively as we could.

We know that for years there is circumvention of sanctions, gold transfers, cash transfers, the maritime embargo is not respected, and also some exceptions are abused, like the trading coal exception for the DPRK relations. We also know that for some countries, the issue is not very important. There are other more urgent topics to be dealt with. So there is no clear will to impose global sanctions on the DPRK. And this is another condition for their effectiveness. So, this is one of the first point I wanted to raise and include in the fact that the United Nations Security Council announced that it will review the mandate of the monitoring team of the sanctions and DPRK next March. So this would be a nice opportunity to consider the broadening of the monitoring mandate of this team to ensure that sanctions are effectively implemented and that UN member states are enabled to implement the sanctions. There are also capability issues; training of customs personnel, identifying opaque structures that are built to circumvent the financial sanctions, for instance. So these are issues that can be considered.

The second point on utility of sanctions is their coupling with other diplomatic tools. Clearly, sanctions are not operating in a vacuum. They are useless per se. They have to be accompanied by political dialogue with the target. So usually it goes through bilateral diplomacy, information sharing, but also the constitution of alliances clearly to broaden the scope of the sanctions and their efficiency. They also have to be covered, and the Iranian example is a very good example of that, with multilateral negotiations to give the target an incentive to go back to the implementation of the regime obligations; normalisation of its position, economic perspectives such as, for instance, the economic perspectives that the EU can offer to a target like trade agreements.

I wanted to point also to a very specific feature of sanctions in the field of non-proliferation policy. Because they are used, unilateral sanctions, actually, seemingly, to strengthen the multilateral regime, which is not obvious at first sight because unilateral measures are usually aiming at economic power demonstration. In our case, it seems that unilateral measures strengthening the pressure on the target are actually helping the return to the normal operation to the regime. And this was the case similarly with Iran, but also arguably with the DPRK. I mean, they are not meant to trigger an implosion of the regime. They are meant to reinforce the regime.

This is why we have this chain between the IAEA, the United Nations Security Council intervening when the IAEA is not able to verify any more the obligations, and then unilateral sanctions backing up United Nations sanctions. And I would maybe stop there because I’m afraid I’m being too long, but the Iran joint common plan of action was very interesting in that respect because it allowed to have a multilateral negotiation that was then linked back both to the United Nations Security Council with the resolution, which endorsed the plan, but also to the non-proliferation regime as such, with the IAEA verifications and the conclusion that the Director-General of the IAEA has to issue in eight years’ time saying if yes or no Iran had effectively stopped its programme. And this conclusion would extinguish the United Nations Security Council Resolution, including all the sanctions. So, you see that there is a whole construction that is concretely strengthening the regime or at least aiming at strengthening the regime. So this is, maybe in a broader perspective, a very specific characteristic of sanctions in this area.

What I wanted to stress here is that of course sanctions have to be linked to the regime. If not, unilateral action and unilateral sanctions are clearly a threat to the multilateral regime as it has been set up in the 1960s. Thank you very much and I’m really happy to answer and develop more on the points I’ve raised.

Laura Rockwood, Executive Director, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Thank you, Charlotte. We’re now going to hear from Sico van der Meer, who is a research fellow with the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, and he’s been very much focused on nonconventional weapons, WMD, and cyber, which we just heard about in the last session. And, prior to that, worked as a journalist. So, Sico, some of your thoughts about sanctions and effectiveness or ineffectiveness.

Sico van der Meer, Research Fellow, Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael)

Thank you very much. And first of all, I want to applaud the organisers, because this is one of the few panels in which the men are in the minority. The issue of gender was raised over their couple of days. It’s great to be here in the minority. I just want to offer some opinion, some ideas to stimulate discussion. In my opinion, when you talk about sanctions, it’s as a tool for non-proliferation, it’s very important to observe the conditions in which we use them. And I think sometimes that’s forgotten. I think sanctions are often seen as a tool to raise the cost of proliferation. Which, you know, it’s raising the costs. The benefits are simply forgotten, I think. I think one of the key issues when you think about sanctions is getting the motivation of the proliferating country right. You know, it’s not about raising only the cost of proliferation; you also need to show the country, to convince the country that there is something to win.

There is something to win if they stop proliferating and the sanctions will be stopped, it’s not only that, it’s not only that sanctions are ended but you should consider that the motivation of the country very clearly. And I think, especially in recent years, when you look at proliferation, it’s often regime survival that’s involved. When countries are proliferating, they are building nuclear weapons, you know, if you look to North Korea, you look to Iran, it’s about regime survival; not only about security but also domestic policy. And I think that sanctions can only work if you consider this motivation well, and if you convince the country that the regime survival will be more secure with adhering to the sanctions and giving up the proliferation than to just install sanctions and say, ‘you are doing bad things and this is your punishment’.

So, if you look to a few examples, and North Korea has been mentioned already, but a few examples of what I think are successes is when regime survival was threatened by the sanctions. I think Libya is a clear example. Lockerbie was already mentioned. The sanctions to Libya were not only meant for the proliferation activities of Libya, but also the terrorist import of course. And somewhat the sanctions became successful. At first, there was not enough international support, so it did not work that much, but at some moment there is enough international support, and you saw when especially the oil industry was targeted, and Gaddafi was supporting the wealth of the population by bringing the revenues of the oil sector to creating jobs etc. But when he didn’t have the revenues any more, you saw definitely domestic unrest. And reports, terrorist attacks against the regime, and I think at that moment Libya decided, okay, the first priority is regime survival. And as long as the sanctions are here, that’s a danger. So it was very convincingly made clear to Gaddafi, when you stop proliferating, when you stop supporting terrorism, you will be economically affluent again, you will be a respected member of the international community again, so he had something to win with ending his bad activity, shall we say. The fact that he was killed a few years later with international support was not a very good example for future cases, but, you know, taking into account the regime survival, strategy is very important.

The same for Iran I think. Also to Iran it was made clear that if they were to stop the proliferation processes, the regime would stay there and they could win. And the economy could flourish again. This would create more domestic support for the regime and, even more so, it was also taken into account that part of the motivation of the nuclear programme was prestige, so I think it was very crucial that the West accepted that Iran could keep a reduced nuclear programme. Also deal with the motivation of prestige.

And then very briefly about North Korea, clearly the sanctions do not work in North Korea yet. And that’s because I think that we don’t get the motivation of North Korea well. The North Korean regime is not caring about is population as economy or whatever. They always have the Juche ideology of we don’t want any trade with other countries, we want to be isolated. So they don’t care about economic sanctions just because of isolation to the country. They don’t care about economic wealth of the population. The population is poor, we know a very big amount of people died in the 1990s because of hunger and the government didn’t care. They do not be need to be afraid of domestic unrest because the Stalinist system is doing very well. So if you want effective sanctions, think about the motivation of the states. And the motivation of the state is regime survival, because they’re really afraid of foreign interventions. They also need nuclear weapons to prove to the population that the regime is protecting them from the world outside. I think if you want to have effective sanctions, threatening regime survival, you should really target their elite, and create unrest among the happy few in Pyongyang that are having all the power in the country. Of course, we are doing that, but it doesn’t work that well yet, and the elite in Pyongyang still has its masseuses, its Rolex, its Cognac, etc. So something has gone wrong there. And I think really targeting at the motivation of the regime is important, an important condition.

The other condition is you should offer a carrot. You should convince the regime that they will win. You know, changing behaviour so the sanctions will end. And of course, especially the case with North Korea proves that, you should really get international support. Especially in the North Korean case, you see that if not all important actors are on board, on the same page, it doesn’t work. In this case, of course, China is a very key factor, I think. So these are just some of the conditions that you should take into account when you apply sanctions. And my key message is that sanctions could really be a very important tool for non-proliferation issues, but they are not easy to implement. You should really consider the motivation of the target states, and the conditions. I hope that some food for discussion. Thank you.

Laura Rockwood, Executive Director, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Thank you, Sico. Well, we have plenty of time for questions, conversation, what I would ask you to do is to please introduce yourself briefly, try to keep your intervention as clear and as brief as possible, and we should have an interesting exchange.

Dr Mariana Budjeryn, Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School

Thank you very much for very interesting presentations. So to pull this together somehow, my impression is that there are two aspects of sanctions. One is instrumental, which is actually getting the economic effect or political effect on the targeted country. And one is intrinsic, which is basically setting one type of behaviour, which is norm following, apart from a different type of behaviour, which is normal breaking. And we need something to mark these two types of behaviours. And these two parts or roles of sanctions might work differently. So what I’m hearing from Tarja is that perhaps the instrumental role of the sanctions might not really give us that much. It might backfire in fact. It might enrich some people. There is very interesting work being done at Harvard and MIT by Jim Walsh and John Parkes that demonstrates that North Korean sanctions are backfiring in the sense that North Koreans have managed to develop a really more profound procurement networks in China, because they are dishing out more money, and getting better suppliers for their nuclear programme. But yet, we still seem to need them, as Charlotte pointed out, as a reaction to the breaking of the norm. So if you have any ideas, perhaps, of how to reconcile these two purposes, roles of the sanctions more effectively? Thank you.

Dr Pierre Goldschmidt, Senior Associate, Nuclear Policy Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

I think there is something that hasn’t been tackled by the panel, which is important, and it’s the deterrence effect of sanctions. And we have to draw the lessons from what happened with both Iran and Libya. It took, in fact, Iran was found technically from an IAEA point of view, in non-compliance very early in 2003. It was obvious. It took three years for the board to formally say that Iran was in non-compliance, and it’s only later that it was referred to the Security Council. Now this was due to, I think, some kind of misunderstanding. The IAEA statute says that when a country is found in non-compliance, the board has to refer the matter to the Security Council, which is true. But it doesn’t say when it has to refer to the Security Council. And this was not I think in many member states, they did not realise that they had time to do that. And it’s interesting that, for instance in the case of Libya, because of the very quick and good cooperation of Libya, Libya had been found in non-compliance, and it was referred to the Security Council for information purposes only.

So the deterrence effect of sanctions, which is before sanctions take place, is very important, because no one wants to be sanctioned. And one has to very quickly, when it’s the case, the IAEA has to say non-compliance, because then you have this sword of Damocles hanging, and then you give time for diplomacy at the time, so that the state can correct whatever was any wrongdoing in the past. And this is very important I think, and it’s more effective to try to avoid sanctions by the risk of having sanctions. Thank you.

Thomas Countryman, Acting Under Secretary, Arms Control and International Security, US Department of State

Three quick comments for which I’d welcome your analysis. The first, it is a truism that sanctions don’t work until they work. The case I know best, that I was most intimately involved in, was Serbia, where the democratic opposition publicly criticise the sanctions and privately told us keep them up, and privately told us after they defeated Milošević that it was the right thing to do. There is great difference between a partially democratic society like Serbia, a very ambiguously democratic society like Iran, and a nasty little fascist state like North Korea in terms of the effect that sanctions will have. The key point on Iran for me is not that the targeted sanctions did the job. It is that the EU’s courageous decision to stop buying oil from Iran is what brought about an effective negotiation.

Second point, and one that I have to deal with each day, is that although the two concepts are frequently confused, we make a distinction between punitive economic sanctions and strategic trade control. And most of the action of the international community and the Security Council in the case of North Korea was first about strategic trade control, about prohibiting the transfer to North Korea of nuclear and ballistic missile materials. And if we had done a better job on that, and particularly if China had seen this is an important thing to do, we would not have gotten to the point of needing more sweeping sanctions. And it’s interesting that even Resolution 2270, primarily at Chinese insistence, still predicates economic sanctions upon the need to control the flow of hard currency that can be used to buy WMD material.

The third point is, it’s very true you have to analyse what the targeted regime wants, but you also have to analyse how they see the world. And in the case of North Korea, there are two things that the Beloved Marshal assumes. One is that he can divide the international community, and that it is only a conflict between North Korea and the US, and everyone else is really on his side. And secondly, he assumes he has the strong support of the elite around him. What the European Union, and not only the European Union, but every country could do is to challenge those assumptions. To demonstrate in a very public way that he does not have the support of the rest of the world, that he can’t divide the rest of the world, and secondly, it’s worthwhile to demonstrate that he has to worry harder about the elite. And that can be done by a variety of symbolic unilateral sanctions on the part of the EU and the rest of the world, where even if they don’t have an immediate effect, the clear message that the elite is being targeted in North Korea can cause him to rethink his calculus. So I welcome your reaction on these.

Laura Rockwood, Executive Director, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Thank you, Tom. I have quite a few people on my list. I think very quickly we’ll start with Charlotte, Sico, and Tarja.

Charlotte Beaucillon, Assistant Professor, International and EU Law, Panthéon-Sorbonne University

Yes, thank you very much for these very interesting comments. On the reconciliation of the two roles of the sanctions, I think it is important to remind that sanctions are not a magic tool in diplomacy. They are really difficult to control and to implement, and it requires a very diverse expertise. For instance, legal expertise is not at the start self-evident but, in the EU case, the fact that there were so many contestations before the jurisdiction was a great hurdle to the implementation of UN sanctions.

Of course, expertise is needed in economics, and also in history to determine exactly not only what is the interest of the regime but also the perceptions. I learned a lot in Seoul last week in our seminar, understanding how different the perceptions on sanctions were from the Occidental or Western side, and from the Asiatic side, and especially on China, and the position they had on the effect of sanctions on their own diplomatic strategy in the long term with North Korea, their neighbour. And this is something I think that is under evaluated today. When you look at the monitoring teams of sanctions at the UN, these are too few people, but also too few experts actually designing the implementation of sanctions, and this can be an interesting way forward, because, of course, we don’t want sanctions to have a counter effect. It is not legitimate any more to have sanctions which are not concretely targeting or achieving a result. But on the other hand, I have difficulties to see which more effective tool we could have in international law to express a reaction to a breach of the norm. So this might be, you know, concrete work on the implementation, a way to reconcile on the field, and each case, case by case, these issues. But for this you need means and expertise. You need ground work on that.

From the deterrence perspective, of course there is this effect, and it depends really on some political decisions and the use of the legal tools we have. You mentioned the margin of manoeuvre, the board of governors the IAEA has in declaring non-compliance. We also have a reputational effect of being under sanctions by the international community, which is really something that is feared by the targets, and we know that. Even looking at North Korea, which seems to be sanctions proof, but not that much, I mean the reputational effect is very important.

And I will just sneak in a comment on the humanitarian crisis in North Korea. The crisis is going on, and we know that it has been qualified at the UN level as breaches amounting to sometimes crimes against humanity. And the very fact that the United Nations General Assembly endorsed this qualification, which we can contest, I mean, it’s a political body doing that, provoked clear withdrawal from North Korea from the table of negotiations. So reputation and international respectability is something really important as part of the sanctions strategy.

Sico van der Meer, Research Fellow, Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael)

Very interesting points. To mention a few. The deterrence effect of sanctions, I think that’s important indeed, but again, it depends on the motivation of the target states, because to some states it may be have any deterrent effect because they have an important international economy, they rely to some part for regime survival on the wealth of the population; but for some countries like North Korea, it doesn’t work at all I think, because North Korea since say 1990, since the end of the support of the Soviet Union, the economic is very bad. So could it be even worse? Of course it could be even worse, but I think that for the regime, it’s not important. So I don’t think to North Korea there is any deterrent effect of sanctions.

I think North Korea is very afraid of military intervention. You know, regime change, that’s what they fear most. And that’s why I think their calculation is really on regime survival. And then I don’t think that sanctions have a deterrent effect on that. I think we should only use the sanctions to show them that there are better ways to survive instead of building nuclear weapons. And how you do that, it’s difficult. You should offer the carrot, saying, okay, the sanctions are here, but do you realise that your chance for regime survival will increase if you behave more like the international community wishes? That’s a difficult thing to do, but I think that sanctions can play a role in targeting this very few people in the elite, and if you could create unrest there, or even convince the North Korean elite that you are trying to do that and make a success then that may be an effective targeted sanctions that may work as a deterrent to some respect, but it is a difficult construction.

Then the difference between punitive sanctions and strategic trade control, I agree with that, but I think also that they are both mostly in cost raising. You know, it’s raising the cost for proliferation activities. We should not forget that there is also something in offering some benefits to change the behaviour. And that’s I think often forgotten. States think ‘we are punished’ but what should they do to win, to benefit from ending sanctions? That could be communicated more clearly maybe through diplomatic ways. Sometimes it works, well, in the case of North Korea, North Korea says nowadays, well we have seen Gaddafi, you know, he changed his behaviour, and he was killed. We’ve seen Ukraine, where they gave up nuclear weapons are now part of the country is in other hands, so it is difficult to sometimes offer the example to a state like North Korea of how can they change the benefit to be sure that their regime will survive? It’s a difficult question. I don’t have the answers for that, but maybe someone else on the panel has.

Tarja Cronberg, Distinguished Associate Fellow, SIPRI

Thank you. The first question about the instrumental and the intrinsic effects of sanctions, I think there’s a problem of sanctions being somehow in cross purposes, and actually every case is individual and maybe would benefit from individual analysis. I mentioned the Revolutionary Guards and the wealth accumulation in Iran, which may be different from the case of the elite in the North Korea. But some rules are important, and I think the question of regime survival has come up here, and you can see the opposite case, that if the objective of the sanctions, or any programme, is regime change then it is in contrast to non-proliferation goals. If you want the country to prohibit a closed nuclear programme, you should not at the same time talk about regime change, because no country will negotiate its own exit. So this balance is extremely important, and I think we can learn from the Bush administration’s regime change policy in relation to Iran, that while this was on, and before Obama actually changed the policy, there was no chance of real negotiations.

I think the question of understanding the target country is important. Of course, and the question is how do you understand the target country? If you want to learn something about the mistakes we in the EU have done in terms of understanding Iran, I think one of the things is that the EU was very close to actually getting a deal in 2005 before the Americans joined in, but the problem was, and I think this is generally a [inaudible] that Europeans didn’t understand the strategic importance that the nuclear programme had in Iran, and particularly the question of the right to enrich. And had this been understood, the Europeans could have had an agreement on the level of 20 centrifuges at that time. So I think it’s important to understand the target country. It may not be so easy, so you have to try too. And I think Iran and North Korea are very different. In Iran you had to understand what enrichment means to Iran. On the other hand, North Korea has nuclear weapons, and it’s a completely different situation.

I agree on the deterrence effect of threat of sanctions. It’s quite effective I think, and in the Iran case, the question in 2005/2006 of referring Iran to the Security Council with the threat of universal sanctions I think was a real reason why Iran came up with a lot of compliance suddenly, and a lot of proposals and so forth. And I think it was very, very effective. And I think the Security Council for North Korea I think it’s probably not equally as effective. So in the Iranian case, it was effective.

And I think finally the question of not being divided. I think that the EU has of course is problem in that sometimes we are divided, but I think in the Iran case we actually were very, very united. And I think the fact that the US and EU could coordinate the sanctions in 2011 was a surprise for the Iranians. They actually had expected that the EU could play another role and, okay, the US was talking about banking and financial sanctions, and so the fact that these two were united was important. I think it was also important for the other two countries, China and Russia, in a different way, because the fact the EU and the US agreed on sanctions gave a very bad name for companies who were working with Iran, so there was a psychological factor against Russian, particularly, but also particularly Chinese companies that working with Iran was not the thing to do, and that of course there was a direct threat of US sanctions for companies that were working, but Chinese and Russian companies could go around this. But the psychological effect was there. And, in fact, the sanctions were more united than you would think because Russia and China were against unilateral sanctions.

Laura Rockwood, Executive Director, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Thank you, Tarja. I saw three hands over here.

Dr Erica Moret, Senior Researcher, Programme for the Study of International Governance, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Hello, thank you very much. I’m Erica Moret from the Graduate Institute in Geneva, and I coordinate a network on sanctions, and have also been involved in the production of the sanctions app, which if any of you don’t know it, I’d encourage you to download it onto your phones and computers, which is the first comprehensive assessment of all UN targeted sanctions since 1991, and it includes a lot of detail on the effectiveness and impact of sanctions for the purpose of non-proliferation in the cases of Iran and North Korea.

I would just like to make one comment if I may. The work that we’ve been carrying out recently into this field has shown that, like the point made by Charlotte, sanctions do not operate in isolation and should only be measured according to their policy aims. Secondly, the way in which they are coordinated with other policy instruments is extremely important as well, and that is sometimes overlooked, so I think I really agree with the point that was made here. And if we break down the impacts of sanctions according to factors such as signalling disapproval over the breach of international norms, coercing behaviour, and constraining behaviour, we can actually find a more nuanced way in which sanctions have actually potentially been effective, particularly in the Iran case, in certain areas. And so I think it adds an interesting debate to whether or not they’ve been working.

So my point would be that it’s perhaps time to stop asking if they work, and rather ask how they work, under which conditions and in combination with which types of policy instruments. Thank you.

Adérito Vicente, PhD Researcher, Department of Political and Social Sciences (SPS), European University Institute (EUI)

Thank you. My name is Adérito Vicente, I am from European University Institute. I have a question about of course North Korea. Actually, the sanctions worked at some point in the past, in 2008. For instance, in 2008, North Korean is allowed US, Russians, and Chinese inspectors to verify their facilities. There was also this manoeuvre by the North Korean government of the Yongbyon destruction of the atomic facility there. But since then, I think it’s a question of trust, and I think before we start to understand why sanctions don’t work, I think there is a question of trust between two sides; between the so-called Six-Party Talks members and North Korea. There was a change on the leadership, and I believe that since then there is a question of no trust between the parties. And my question is, what steps could be made to build up that trust that was actually destroyed? Because if we see what happened in 2008, basically we can see that there was the destruction of the atomic reactor in Yongbyon was basically a manoeuvre of the North Korean government to renew their nuclear arsenal in other parts of the country. So my question is: what can you do to build up this trust?

Dina Esfandiary, MacArthur Fellow, Centre for Science and Security Studies, King's College London

My name is Dina Esfandiary from King’s College London. Broadly speaking, I think sanctions are effective when you threaten to impose them and then when you offer the carrot of removing them. But I think Iran has been a good test case apparently moving them has been quite problematic. So my question to the panel is: do you think the EU in particular has learnt any lessons from what’s happened in the Iran case? And in particular from inadvertently making itself a little bit dependent on extraterritorial US sanctions? Thank you.

Emil Dall, Research Analyst, Royal United Services Institute

Tarja, you touched a little bit on it with the importance of having the EU on board on Iran sanctions. We have a thing called Brexit, and I was wondering if you could elaborate a little bit on if the exit of the UK from the European Union would have any effect on EU sanctions policy? Is the role of the UK overstated in EU sanctions? Or will the EU continue as it’s always done? I’m also thinking a little bit about the role that London played in finance in insurance and what London can bring to the EU sanctions regime, so I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on that. Thank you.

Dan Smith, Director, SIPRI

Good morning. My name is Dan Smith from SIPRI. And I thought actually the point you were going to make is that Britain and the Brexit will be the first country to sanction itself. But I will move on. One of the themes which is running through all the presentations on several of the questions is that sanctions are about influencing behaviour. But there is a huge range of influences on behaviour, apart from the sanctions. So what’s happening in Iran, in the period of Ahmadinejad’s presidency, which seems like an absolutely dead period as far as diplomatic possibility is concerned, is that the leadership is becoming aware that Iran is becoming actually an increasingly secular society. So the Revolutionary Guard grew in wealth, as said, you have a religious state, but increasingly secular society. And that balancing act which they have to carry out is also a part of their calculations about what kind of relationship they need to the world, and therefore why, for example, a candidate like Rouhani might be a viable and valid candidate, because he offers a different kind of balance in that relationship to the world. And in this, I think it’s extremely easy to overstate the importance of sanctions, and it’s also easy to get them wrong, to be providing perverse incentives in the wrong part of the process of evolution in a country’s policy.

DPRK is a very, very different case. And I think it’s really quite important not to discuss them as if there are lessons from Iran that you can put onto DPRK. I mean, Iran was a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. DPRK’s evolution has been from nuclear programme as a bargaining chip, to we are a nuclear weapon state, get used to it. And they are thinking about regime survival in a different language, different terminology and different concepts, than how Iran is.

Given this, the question which I have, also which you’ve been touching on, is what range of capacities and competencies do you think are required amongst the people and the institutions that need to design the sanctions once there is some kind of political agreement that that’s bad behaviour and we want to sanction it.

Professor Dr Mahmoud Nasreddine, Secretary-General, Middle East and North Africa Strategic Studies Center; Former Director-General, Arab Atomic Energy Agency

Thank you. If we have the feeling that the sanctions have not a big impact in target country, for two reasons, one is because we don’t have any open source from the media, national media, about the impact on the population. The second is what you said, all of you, that since the regime itself does not have the feeling that the sanction is endangering life, they will continue to ignore this sanction. For example, the direct impact of sanctions on Iran and Libya was the exchange rate of the national money. The cost of living. And the population suffered a lot about this. I know some cases, mainly in Libya for example. Libya was under sanctions for years and years, and Gaddafi didn’t feel any time the necessity to start any discussion with the international community. Since US come to Iraq, Gaddafi feel himself endangered, and he started to say, ‘Okay, I will stop everything, including the nuclear programme’, and the process, you know it very well.

By the way, the nuclear programme of Libya is a complete joke. There is no nuclear programme, I know very well. I was Director General of the Arab Atomic Energy Agency. I know the case. There is not any nuclear programme. They bought from the black market some component for enrichment, there is no natural uranium. There is no expert. All the equipment was in the box. They never started any operation of enrichment; they didn’t try to see if the equipment was working or not. So it’s a complete joke, because of failure to find something in Iraq, the story of nuclear programme in Libya was a win-win joke between the US and the Gaddafi regime to say, ‘We had a big programme in Libya, we stopped it’. And also, the US said, ‘We failed in Iraq and we succeeded in Libya.’ Thank you.

Laura Rockwood, Executive Director, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Thank you very much. I’m going to give the floor to our speakers to respond as expeditiously as possible. And then, as I said, I will give the floor to take more questions.

Tarja Cronberg, Distinguished Associate Fellow, SIPRI

Thank you. I’ll try to be brief. First of all, I agree that we should not discuss whether sanctions work. We should be more interested in how they work, and this comes back to Dan’s question about the capacity of the people who actually design and implement sanctions. And I think there is, of course, no rules, but you can give a few examples of necessary knowledge. For example, if you target the elites, and you come with the visa ban and the people don’t travel anyway, so it’s not a good idea. You have to focus, if you have a visa ban, you have to know who travels, why and where, and how this will affect the persons involved.

The second question is that, for example in the Iran case, there has been not enough knowledge about the state structures. The private industry has been affected more by the sanctions and the state structures have actually benefited from the sanctions, so you have to understand the balance between the private sector and the state sector, and try to design the sanctions according to your target groups. So it requires a lot of information about the economy and about the questions.

Then I think there is one phenomenon which we have not been giving enough attention to, and this is over compliance. The fear of companies of being sanctioned and I think the medical problems in Iran, whether medical supplies were not sanctioned, but the companies in Europe and outside felt that they might be sanctioned and there might be US sanctions on the companies working with Iran, so they refuse to do anything with Iran, and therefore the lack of supplies, and there were also questions of financial transactions that were problematic, so this over compliance is a problem. And we see it today.

I go to the second question about the EU. Has the EU learnt anything? And the question of the removal of the sanctions. I think there was an expectation in the EU that after the removal of the sanctions, we would be free to trade with Iran. There were a lot of companies going to Iran, and a lot of plans for trade deals. And then it turns out that because of the US Treasury restrictions, this is not possible. And the banks in Europe have been very fearful of going to Iran and I think rightly so, because there are so many restrictions in the US system that it’s very difficult to know whether you are allowed to trade or not. I’ll give an example very shortly, the question of the aeroplanes. Airbus in Europe made a deal with Iran, about 118 planes to be sold to Iran, and the aeroplanes were exempt from US sanctions, so Iran was also going to go buy 88 planes from Airbus. Now, because of the resentment of Iran, there was a blockage in the US trying to block this Airbus, excuse me, the Boeing deal. And then the Boeing leaders went to lobby, and said well, if Boeing is going to be blocked then also Airbus has to be blocked, and the European should not be able to sell aeroplanes, because the European aeroplane contains more than 10% components from the US. So the solution in this case has been that both are now selling, and both got exemptions from the US in order to be able to sell their planes to Iran. But this kind of strategic competition is going on, and should be.

And the short answer on the Brexit. In Iran negotiations, there has been three European countries involved: France, UK and Germany. And they have had a united front, but they have been very different in their orientation. France has been very sanctions oriented, or hawk the final phases; and also very much on the zero enrichment line. On the other hand, we have had Germany, which has had traditionally very good relations with Iran, and has been very open to example limited scale of enrichment. And we have had the UK in the middle. So with Brexit, this middle bridge is now going away, and so maybe the French and the Germans will be more polarised than they were with the UK.

Sico van der Meer, Research Fellow, Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael)

I really liked the remark on the balancing act of the regime in Iran, where they also have this domestic problem, which I think that’s always the case, you know, but states are going too much of a proliferation trajectory, they always have domestic reasons as well. It’s not only international politics, and we should really take that into in count to make sanctions, for example, but with all policy to make it effective. And that’s also indeed the answer to the question of what people need to work on sanctions. I think you really need to involve country experts that really can give insight on why is this country behaving like this? Why are there several things that are happening at the same time and combined they create this policy? That’s key I think.

Maybe the other important thing, indeed, it was mentioned, the aftermath of sanctions. When you have solved the problem, you should also solve how to get the sanctions away, and to have the country that used to be sanctioned have it indeed winning. And that is a problem you know, when sanctions are successful, you should also be aware that it should resolve well, and even the Iran case, it’s now that the Iranians are complaining that they hope to have an economy which would go upward quite fast, but they still have the banking problem, they still have, as Tarja said, the over compliance by many companies. I think there, the West should invest more in making it successful, because now, I don’t know what will happen, but at some point Iran may go backwards and say, well, we didn’t win as much as we hoped. So, to make it successful, you have to invest it as well. And I already mentioned, the aftermath of the sanction period of Gaddafi, well at first, it was successful, but a couple of years later he was killed. So it’s not a very nice example of making sanctions successful from that perspective.

Two very small details, around the Libya/Iraq connection, I know that many experts say that Gaddafi gave up his chemical weapons and nuclear weapons because of the invasion of Iraq, but I also know that many experts say that actually Gaddafi was negotiating for a long period before the Iraq invasion already. So he wanted already a solution, and it was mainly because of domestic unrest that the sanctions created. He wanted his regime his survive. It didn’t matter for him whether he would survive as being a rogue state or being an accepted state in the West. He wanted to survive; that was the key. And I don’t think the invasion of Iraq was that influential, and indeed, by the way the nuclear weapon programme was a joke, but the chemical weapon programme was less, I think.

One last point on the sanctions to North Korea, 2008 you mention, I think you also mentioned the Banco Delta affair. There was one point at which sanctions were quite effective, when North Korea was really shocked, wow, how could they do this, where Americans could freeze bank accounts in a bank in Macau. So that created a window of opportunity, but I’m afraid that North Korea soon learnt its lesson, and thought, well, okay, we can do something now, or we can also go on the path we were going but better, even more underground activities and apparently that works as well. Thank you.

Charlotte Beaucillon, Assistant Professor, International and EU Law, Panthéon-Sorbonne University

I’ll try to be brief. Erica, I couldn’t agree more. To my EUI colleague on the DPRK, maybe two ideas. The first is already developed by a Japanese professor of international politics, Masako Ikegami. She is drawing from trust-building measures during the Cold War and applying them to the DPRK situation. This might be an idea. Another idea is to have a look at the Iranian joint common plan of action and the way it is designed, because it is a long-term perspective of implementations, checks and balances, and I think this is something that can be at least inspiring in the way in which one can design long-term trust building schemes.

On the lessons learned and extraterritoriality, I had the chance to participate to Professor Ronzitti’s book on coercive diplomacy lately and to work on extraterritoriality, where I had the impression that I was navigating into really murky waters. I would not have a clear answer to you. Clearly, I don’t have the sense that the EU or the EU order or the EU legal culture would allow a practice of extraterritoriality to the extent to which the US does. Clearly, as far as secondary boycotts are concerned, these can be probably envisaged in terms of the control and the controls that the target has on the situation. Going further, I don’t see that we can learn more lessons from the US sanctions to date and to the state of EU law. I mean, I don’t think it’s envisaged.

Brexit. I have a solution actually. You might not like it, but it goes back to concretely how sanctions are decided and implemented within the EU. Concretely, you have the first political decision to implement the sanctions, either if they come from the United Nations Security Council, this is a CFSP decision, or to impose unilateral measures. This is an internal decision by all the member states united in the Council. My experience at the UN when I was working on the al-Qaeda sanctions regime showed that other states could, and this is what you will not like, align with the EU position, whether they wanted to be a member of the EU – it was the case of Croatia at that time – or to be part of a broader European perspective, as was the case of Switzerland. So it’s not at all a problem for the UK, for instance, to decide and make the political decision to implement the same sanctions. It would imply coordination, and this may be part of the special relationship that the UK wants to build with the EU in the future. I don’t know, but I don’t see a legal problem in the UK continuing to participate in the implementation of sanctions together with the EU.

On the range of capacity. My experience is that the main problem to design sanctions is the exchange of classified information. Of course, sanctions design is based on classified information. You mentioned national experts, and states are not really willing to exchange this information. So this might be an idea, cooperation within the European space, but also maybe between the EU and the US. There are some schemes to do some classified information exchanges. More concretely, perhaps, as you well know, the monitoring teams in the sanctions committee in the UN are very restrictive groups. They gather maybe 10 to 15 experts, maximum. So maybe enabling them to have access to outsourced expertise that would of course need to be cleared and to allow for the exchange again of classified information; I think this is the main problem in that.

Third point on capacity. The Resolution 1540 is a good example. It’s on non-proliferation to non-state actors, and it has given the place to a whole implementation scheme, a very deep legislative training, concrete training on borders, and this can be an inspiring example on how you can improve the capacity in the monitoring of sanctions, and that’s it.

Onur Güven, Researcher, Asser Institute

Thank you. Onur Güven, from the Asser Institute, The Hague. I have two brief questions. The first one concerns how to end or change policies. Adopting policy is one thing, maybe challenging, but changing or ending it may be even more challenging, both for proliferators but also for states adopting sanctions. And there may be a great deal of subjectivity in the matter. So are there examples where a targeted state was behaving in one way as required under the sanctions regime, but that the lack of trust still obstructed a government or governments from changing or ending the sanctions regime?

In the second question relates more to the broader political security situation, taking into account the sanctions between the West and Russia. Do these have negative spill-over effects on the ability of the UN to impose sanctions on proliferators or potential proliferators?

Nabeela Al Mulla, Former Ambassador of Kuwait to the EU; Former Permanent Representative to the UN and other International Organisations in Vienna and to the UN in New York

Kuwait has no aspiration to be a member of the European Union, but we were approached by the EU during my term here in Brussels. The EU approached member states to please associate themselves with the sanctions that were passed by the EU. So it’s not only for European countries; it was quite widespread. So are the American sanctions; some are more under pressure to abide by them than others.

I want to go back to this title, the utility of sanctions in non-proliferation, and to say that except for one colleague who referred to it en passant, and that is utility of sanctions against Iraq in non-proliferation. We did not have the patience, and I’m speaking in the general we without any identification or laying blame on anyone, of waiting for the effect of sanctions to take effect on Iraq, and in March 2003 the agency IAEA had to pull its inspectors from Iraq because the war was looming very high.

Then we come to the question of the nuclear programme in Iran. And I think the incident saw the background, the Iraqi background, was clouding the whole atmosphere. No one wanted to rush to say that Iran was in non-compliance so soon, especially, after the inspectors were asked to get out of Iraq. And we had the ‘liberation’, although according to the Security Council Resolutions, the powers were called the occupying powers, which was an anomaly if they were freeing Iraq. So that is why I think, you know, sometimes we are patient. Who is the target, who is involved, who is going to say when or the sanctions are going to work, who is going to up the ante in terms of sanctions? Is it the banks? The SWIFT account or whatever it is? The EU was not willing. It was only when they were put on the pressure that they agreed that the SWIFT accounts would also be part of the sanctions on Iran. I think, if I say too much I will divulge more than what I would like to say. Thank you very much.

Professor Natalino Ronzitti, Scientific Advisor, Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI)

My name is Ronzitti, Istituto Affari Internazionali. So the first is about sanctions as deterrents. Yes, it is true, it is also a deterrent, but if the deterrent doesn’t work, what do you have? You have a form of coercive diplomacy. And the coercive diplomacy is better than using armed force in international relations. We have to think about a country that wants to destroy nuclear facilities in Iran, sanctions as coercive diplomacy are better than the use of force. The second point is about the legitimacy of sanctions. There are no problems if the sanctions are taken by the Security Council, because the Security Council is acting under Chapter VII, and usually it says that the country to be targeted is a danger for peace and international security. But what about unilateral sanctions that from a legal point of view is not correct to say sanctions in this case, and the European Union is employing the term restrictive measures, because in this case you can react only if the targeted state is committing an international wrong; otherwise, you cannot. And this is the main difference between the Security Council sanctions and countermeasures. For example, it can be proliferation, because sometimes a country is not responsible in international law because it is not a party to the NPT, so in this case the Security Council can take sanctions but states cannot have recourse to unilateral measures against this country.

And another problem that we have experienced has been intimated also this morning is also the problem of lifting sanctions, because for instance, in the case of Iran, sanctions have been lifted, but at least one country still is employing unilateral measures against this country. And this has consequences, for instance, for the relations between the European Union and Iran. The other point is about the implementation. You have a number of instruments for the Security Council, you have the sanctions committee, but for instance, for the European Union, usually the sanctions are implemented through regulations. So these are legal instruments in this case. They are implemented; otherwise there is recourse to the EU Court of Justice.

Maybe the subject that has not been touched upon very much is about the cost of the sanctions for the sanctioning states. And this is a discussion we have nowadays within the European Union, because of sanctions, for instance, against the Russian Federation for the annexation of Crimea, and the countermeasure taken by the Russian Federation against the European Union, because one thing is to sanction North Korea. Nobody cares about the trade with North Korea. The other thing is to sanction the Russian Federation. And this is a big problem and usually there is no recourse to some multilateral organisation, is the WTO, because there is a security exception in this case, and it is not possible to adjudicate disputes of this kind. Thank you.

Paulina Izewicz, Research Associate, Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Programme, IISS

I have a fairly technical question but I will keep it brief. If you look at the case of Iran, again, if we can return to it, under the JCPOA the US promised or decided to lift nuclear -related sanctions. But in practice, if you look at the sanctions authorities, and the executive orders, you see that it’s typically nuclear and something else as rationale. So I’d like to get your thoughts on that. Probably Charlotte, you’d be brave enough to tackle that. If anyone.

Enrique de Vega Gonzalez, Post-Graduate Student, Gutierrez Mellado Institute

My name is Enrique de Vega and I’m a post-graduate student at the Gutierrez Mellado Institute in Madrid and I’ve been researching about sanctions as a foreign policy tool. So I couldn’t agree more with Professor Beaucillon’s point that the utility of sanctions greatly depends on whether they are universally implemented. So I was wondering whether you could elaborate a little further on how new technologies could help in ensuring monitoring and ensuring implementation. Thank you.

Tarja Cronberg, Distinguished Associate Fellow, SIPRI

Thank you. On the enduring legacy of sanctions, I think we can see this that there are problems also for those countries that have agreed to sanctions. To get sanctions removed in the US takes the Congress decision, and I think it’s very difficult, and I’ve talked to Congress members about this, how to define the nuclear-related sanctions. It’s the sanctions that have been approved at a certain point in time, but they are related also to human rights and so this problem is big.

On the other hand, in Iran, you have the structures that have been created in the economy during the sanctions, and this is something that’s called merchants of sanctions, and I think nowadays, the debate in Iran is on whether these merchants of sanctions can participate in the economic rebuilding of the country or not. And there are those who have the money, and they can invest, but on the other hand they are not very well seen. So these conflicts appear on both sides.

I want very briefly to say something about 2003 and Iraq. First of all, there was an expectation that after the occupation of Iraq, Iran would be next. I think there is this slogan saying that everybody in the US, everybody can go to Baghdad, but real men go to Tehran. And it was the idea that the country would collapse because of the Iran occupation. At the time, Iran came up with a very, very advanced proposal to the US on having discussions with the US, taking the nuclear programme off the table, and also solving many other problems, and it was because the regime change policy was there.

A very short comment that the EU policy, the EU’s security strategy actually defined an alternative way of dealing with proliferation, and saying that we have to have effective multilateralism, and the question is about diplomacy and not about military action, and actually the EU negotiation in 2003 had an explicit goal of avoiding military action in Iran.

Sico van der Meer, Research Fellow, Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael)

I think Iraq was mentioned, I think Iraq is one of the examples why sanctions do not work. In the 1980s and 1990s, the people were suffering, in the population, while the government used the suffering to create their own status of ‘it’s the enemy outside’. So propaganda misused to the sanctions. And a successful example of ending sanctions and lifting sanctions I think is Libya. After the sanctions ended, work is going on. The oil went for export again, the money was going to offering jobs to the people, so that was a successful example I think. Although again, Gaddafi did not survive long.

And about the Security Council Resolutions, I agree, the best sanctions are when they are universally applied. But that is not always possible. And if it is not possible, you can do unilateral things, but you should always do it in a group, and have all the key players on board. You can’t sanction North Korea unilaterally if you are the EU. You need to cooperate with China, because that is a key player in this case. So yes, universality is key, but if it is not working you should have key players having a role as well. Thank you.

Charlotte Beaucillon, Assistant Professor, International and EU Law, Panthéon-Sorbonne University

Yes. I will be very brief. Yes, just something following up Kuwait’s ambassador’s comment, I admit that I had an idea of the UK being a bit closer to the EU group than a third country, and participating in the coordination meeting they have at the UN, so it was not very clear.

On legitimacy, and Professor Ronzitti’s comment, I think there is a larger room for manoeuvre for unilateral sanctions, depending on the actual breach of previous obligations by the senders, so this gets technical and depends whether some cooperation agreements or other agreements pre-exist between the sender and the target. And this is something that has to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, depending on the targeted country and the sending country, to know whether it can be actually justified under international law and then considered as legitimate.

On new technologies, well, I have no magical answer to that. I guess something with exchange of information, clearly sharing of information would be very important; even more so for countries that have no concrete capacity and information capacities. So they do already benefit from some classified information that may be something more can be done. I think that’s it. I think we will discuss maybe your question afterwards. Thank you.

Laura Rockwood, Executive Director, Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation

Before I ask you to thank all of our speakers for their contributions today, just a quick couple of thoughts. It seems to me that for Security Council sanctions to be effective, we need to reinforce consensus. Consensus is what makes the sanctions at least ab initio effective. One needs to articulate clear achievable goals, and strengthen negotiations, ideally multilateral. If you have targeted measures, non-proliferation sanctions can be more effective in the context of negotiations, the occasional carrot, and as the non-proliferation regime itself develops, I think the potential effectiveness of sanctions will be strengthened accordingly. We could continue this conversation for hours. It is fascinating, and there are so many different views about this. And I want to personally thank each one of the speakers and to each one of you for being so engaged in this subject matter. Thank you very much.

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Brussels, 3-4 November 2016

EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference 2016