The Middle East

U.S. May Sanction Iran

If this week’s nuclear talks with Iran don’t go well, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on CNN today that the U.S. may begin to impose “severe” economic sanctions on the country. In light of Iran’s newly discovered nuclear capabilities, Gates freely discussed ways to target the nation’s weak economy, including sanctions on banking and technology related to its lucrative oil industry. Gates also addressed the controversy over strategy in Afghanistan, saying, “I think that the notion of timelines and exit strategies […] would all be a strategic mistake.” However, he went on to describe failure in Afghanistan as a potentially “huge setback.” Gates consistently put a positive spin on these issues, highlighting what he sees as the United States’ first real strategy in Afghanistan since the 1980s, the amount of economic leverage the U.S. has against Iran, and his support for President Obama’s call to close Guantanamo Bay, although he claims he is not optimistic about the timeline.