Sanctions Blog

Welcome to what we hope will become an active conversation about the use of economic statecraft and -- more specifically -- sanctions to advance national policy, particularly as relates to energy markets. Please visit the Center’s Economic Statecraft, Sanctions and Energy Markets page for additional related content.

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(13) Impact of Escalating Tensions with Russia on EU and US Sanctions over Ukraine

November 24, 2015

Richard Nephew

Since the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, there has been some speculation and commentary that the war against ISIS will fundamentally change Western views on Russia’s involvement in Syria and potentially even prompt a relaxation of sanctions imposed over Ukraine. Turkey’s decision to shoot down a Russian fighter jet that strayed into its airspace on November 24 will, predictably, cause others to question whether we are instead facing a new period of confrontation with the Russians. There may yet be calls to strengthen sanctions against Russia in response to the incident and Russian support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.


(12) Predicting When New Iranian Oil Will Begin to Flow

November 19, 2015

Richard Nephew

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued its latest quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear program on Wednesday, November 18. Though the report is itself confidential and restricted to solely IAEA member state governments until released formally by the Board of Governors, it found its way to the internet as it almost always does and has shed some light on the pace and progress of Iran’s implementation of its nuclear commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This post offers a few thoughts on how far Iran has come and how far it has yet to go, and speculates as to when formal “Implementation Day” – the day when sanctions relief begins and Iran is free to add significant volumes of oil to the market -- will occur.


(11) Assessing Russian Sanctions Vulnerability

November 9, 2015

Yassamin Issapour

This post examines the pattern of foreign direct investment by Russian companies as part of an effort to ascertain the impact of sanctions on the Russian economy and to help determine the overall health of that economy.


(10) Three Major Threats to the Long-Term Implementation of the Iran Deal

September 10, 2015

Richard Nephew

This post examines three potential paths to a crisis in the implementation of the JCPOA and what must be done to avoid them.


(9) Beyond the Numbers: How Sanctions Actually Work

August 4, 2015

Richard Nephew

The ongoing debate around the Iran nuclear deal has prompted a wave of articles and commentaries on sanctions relief in the agreement and how sanctions will work if it enters into force.  Sadly, most of the comments that I have seen reflect fundamental misunderstandings about sanctions and how they work on a daily basis.  The most damaging of these is that the delisting of a large number of Iranian individuals and entities from the current sanctions rolls means that sanctions have been defanged which, by extension, incorrectly implies that the only measure of success for sanctions is the number of targets penalized. This post is intended to correct this misconception.


(8) UPDATED: 5 Things to Watch as the Iran Nuclear Talks Proceed

June 11, 2015

Richard Nephew

As the P5+1 and Iran continue to meet to draft the final text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ahead of the June 30, 2015 agreed deadline there may be some confusion for many trying to find the direction of negotiations from the barrage of headlines and rhetoric. To help get a better reading on the process, here are five key things to keep in mind about the talks and what is likely to emerge from them.


(7) 5 Things to Watch as the Iran Nuclear Talks Proceed

May 4, 2015

Richard Nephew

As the P5+1 and Iran continue to meet to draft the final text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ahead of the June 30, 2015 agreed deadline there may be some confusion for many trying to find the direction of negotiations from the barrage of headlines and rhetoric. To help get a better reading on the process, here are five key things to keep in mind about the talks and what is likely to emerge from them.


(6) The Humanitarian Impact of Sanctions

April 29, 2015

Richard Nephew

Richard Nephew explores how officials in charge of sanctions respond when they are confronted with questions about the humanitarian impact of their tool of choice. The views expressed here are his own.


(5) Questioning Cyber-Sanctions

April 7, 2015

Richard Nephew

Richard Nephew explores two curiosities within the new Executive Order issued by President Obama on April 1, which puts in place new authorities for the imposition of sanctions against those involved in significant, malicious cyber-enabled activities, from the perspective of sanctions policy specifically. The views expressed here are his own.


(4) Oil Market Implications of the Parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed to by the P5+1 and Iran

April 2, 2015

Richard Nephew

Richard Nephew, Program Director for Economic Statecraft, Sanctions and Energy Markets at the Center on Global Energy Policy, reacts to the announcement today regarding the parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed to by the P5+1 and Iran. The views expressed here are his own.


(3) Opening up the Taps on Iranian Oil

March 17, 2015

Richard Nephew

There has been considerable speculation over the past several months (but particularly in the past week) over when a deal presently under negotiation with Iran could result in new oil supply hitting the market. The reality is that all of these factors will play a part in Iran bringing on additional production and that Iran’s decision and ability to do so will be the result of a complex, multivariable set of circumstances that are impossible to predict with any fidelity now


(2) Are sanctions effective?

March 16, 2015

Richard Nephew

Quite sensibly, sanctions policy decisions are usually framed along the lines of “will this work?” Policymakers of all stripes want to be certain that, if they decide to impose sanctions on an entity, person, or a country, it is worth doing. They want to be sure that they are targeting the right vulnerability or interest. And, they want to know that, by taking action, they are going to advance their agenda. Read the full post here.


(1) The Sanctions Blog at Columbia’s Center on Global Energy Policy

March 12, 2015

Richard Nephew

Welcome to what we hope will become an active conversation about the use of economic statecraft and -- more specifically -- sanctions to advance national policy, particularly as relates to energy markets. Read the full post here.