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Limits of EU's Iranian Oil Embargo

Speaker: Matthew H. Kroenig, Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
January 24, 2012

The European Union's embargo on Iranian oil is unlikely to cause economic pressure on Iran severe enough to compel it to compromise on its controversial nuclear program, says CFR's Matthew Kroenig, an expert on nuclear security. The EU's decision to phase in the embargo over the next six months is problematic, Kroenig says, since "it also provides Iran time to find workarounds, which lessens the economic impact on the Iranian economy." China's unwillingness to go along with the embargo further reduces its effectiveness, Kroenig says. "This is a problem because China is the biggest importer of Iranian oil, importing about twenty percent of all Iranian oil exports," he says.

Kroenig argues that while international economic pressure may result in "a high probability that Iran will come to the negotiating table in the near future, it's hard to imagine Iran and the West coming to some kind of an agreement." With a diplomatic solution unlikely, he says, "the United States and the West are going to be left with a set of less attractive options."

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