Since 1979, when Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Tehran to take American diplomats hostage, the US has issued sanctions on trade with Iran. Later the EU and the UN follow suit. Sanctions were beefed up in 2006 by the UN Security Council when the International Atomic Energy Agency found that Iran had not been declaring its nuclear activities to regulators.
The goal of these sanctions is to support diplomatic efforts to peacefully resolve the disagreements with Iran without having to resort to violent means. In this case, the UN is trying to entice Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment program.
But a new report called the Iran Project, and signed by senior American officials, questions the efficacy of the sanctions. The report argues that sanctions against Iran are backfiring and not reinforcing diplomatic efforts. It also blames the sanctions for corruption, repression, and alienation among Iranians toward the US.
Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering and Congressman Lee H. Hamilton, were among the high-ranking signatories of the report.