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Carrot-and-stick approach to Iran

July 12, 2007

Re "Sanctions with sense," editorial, July 9

Your editorial is fundamentally correct that toughened sanctions are a more effective way to deal with Iran than military force, a policy enumerated in legislation being considered by Congress. You are also correct that the proposed bills err by mixing terrorism and the nuclear issue and by singling out Russia for punishment because of its Iran policy.

However, your argument would be stronger if you cited the models of Libya and North Korea as instances of reversing nuclear proliferation. In both cases, the United States did not threaten the existence of the regime -- however noxious to us. We toughened sanctions, indicated what the regime would have to do to remove sanctions and offered incentives for a changed policy.

If Congress balanced tough sanctions with the prospect of improved relations with Tehran, the bills would be more effective and more likely to result in progress toward persuading Iran to halt its development of nuclear weapons.

STEVEN L. SPIEGEL

Political science professor

UCLA

The writer is the director of the UCLA Center for Middle East Development.

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