‘Sanctions are not a silver bullet’ - US Treasury

© Jonathan Ernst
The United States has long been imposing sanctions against regimes it dislikes. However, even the biggest proponents of the policy say it can strike back.

“Sanctions are not a silver bullet, or the solution to every foreign policy crisis. And, even when sanctions do work, they can come with negative side effects for the United States or for the international financial system,” said Adam Szubin the US Under-Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

The Treasury official added that sanctions can impose serious costs and hit not only adversaries, but also US’ allies. “They can strain diplomatic relations or dampen commercial activity. And they carry a risk of retaliation from targets,” he said.

Szubin also said the overuse of sanctions may hurt the US financial system, the hub of world business, and in the long-term the US could lose that status. “And if we lose that, we lose the very economic leverage that has made our sanctions so effective in the first place,” he said.

According to Szubin, the Treasury Department now administers more than 30 sanctions programs across the globe.

His warning came as Republicans seek ways of imposing new sanctions against Iran despite meeting all the requirements of the nuclear deal signed in 2015.