Sanctions are indeed hurting Iran and putting pressure on the leadership. But the United States should not repeat past mistakes by vesting too much confidence in its ability to force capitulation by pouring it on with overly aggressive efforts. Instead of sanctioning impetuously to force the issue, the United States should take its time and show Iran that it is prepared to be more flexible when it comes to relief.
Rouhani has the trust of Iran’s supreme leader and is a pragmatist that we can work with. To make the most of this opportunity, the United States will need to show the patience, poise and flexibility. Pressure can only take us so far. The way to avoid falling for the rope-a-dope is not by being tenacious but by being smart.
Mark Jansson is the special projects director for the Federation of American Scientists, the country’s longest-serving organization committed to addressing nuclear threats.