The Limits of Resolve in International Politics: Evidence from the Iran Deal Negotiation
Abstract: Economic coercion depends on the credibility of both threats to punish non- compliance and assurances that compliance will not be punished. What instru- ments can states deploy to make the necessary assurances without undermining the credibility of their threats? This article describes how some factors that bolster the credibility of threats can simultaneously undermine the credibility of assurances. It then argues that states can mitigate the challenge by carefully selecting coalition partners with different interests who can hold them accountable. The paper applies the theory to the Iran deal negotiation and finds that Congressional resolve to maintain sanctions initially stymied progress. The United States was ultimately able to increase the believability of its commitments by partnering with European states that were more open to removing sanctions.