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Turkey’s Iran Policy: Between Diplomacy and Sanctions

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed the fourth round of sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran on June 9, 2010. Turkey, along with Brazil, voted in opposition to sanctions while Lebanon abstained from the vote. Turkey and Brazil’s votes were particularly critical because they demonstrated a lack of unity within the international community. The rationale behind Brazil and Turkey’s votes derived from the fact that the nuclear swap deal signed by Iran is, so far, the only concrete deal. It represents the only legal basis that the international community can build upon and hold Iran accountable. Although both countries’ “no” votes were consistent with their diplomatic efforts, many analysts are criticizing Turkey in particular for not voting with its traditionally strong allies such as the US. Turkey’s vote against the new round of sanctions represents an important milestone not because Turkey is abandoning its long-time allies but because Turkey is learning to make its own foreign policy calculations and decisions.

Turkey s Iran Policy Between Diplomacy and Sanctions
The Turkish government has stated time and again that sanctions have been counterproductive and damaging for diplomatic efforts.
 

Abrief overview of the sanctions passed in the past could help us better situate the latest round of sanctions within the proper context. The attention paid to Iran’s nuclear program extends back to January 2002 when President Bush declared Iran to be part of the “Axis of Evil” along with Iraq and North Korea, especially because of their development of long-range missiles. Later in the same year, Iran revealed the existence of two nuclear sites under construction. In October 2003, the UK, France, and Germany (EU-3) reached an agreement with Iran (Tehran Declaration) to cooperate with the IAEA and to suspend its nuclear enrichment and reprocessing activities. These diplomatic efforts were not supported by the Bush administration and the US decided to demonstrate a tough stance against Iran through pressure, military threats, and sanctions. 

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