2022 Undergraduate Fellow Spotlight: Jeanelle Garcia

Jeanelle Garcia is a recent graduate from the University of Georgia where she received a Bachelors of Arts in International Affairs. Her involvement in the Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program at UGA introduced her to a plethora of interesting security issues, such as nonproliferation. Through this program, she also completed a capstone research project related to human security. In her last semester of undergrad she had the opportunity to intern with the Human Rights Measurement Initiative. Through this internship she became increasingly interested in human rights and the importance of engaging with international organizations. In her free time, Jeanelle enjoys traveling, crocheting, and drinking lattes.

Final Presentation: Improving Counter Proliferation Finance to Counter a Hedging Iran

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Sanctions in Iran from 2011-2015, and again after the U.S. left the JCPOA in 2018, proved to seriously weaken the Iranian economy. However, these targeted, economic, and U.S. secondary sanctions failed to completely change Iranian behavior and moves towards nuclear weapons. When the U.S. left the JCPOA in 2018, Iran responded by making significant strides towards nuclear weapons, decreasing its breakout time from one year to one month. Iran has taken this hedging approach despite the reimposition of sanctions. Governments’ approach to counter proliferation finance (CPF) tends to focus on targeted and economic sanctions, which does not wholly prevent financial transactions supporting proliferation activities (AKA activity-based sanctions). In general, current approaches to CPF are fragmented and weak, and the tool receives very little attention from governments. While many experts have brought attention to these deficiencies, improvement on CPF has been stagnant for many years now. However, comprehensive efforts from the international community to improve this tool, namely the U.S. and EU countries, would be very advantageous given the current hedging of Iran. A stronger approach to CPF means preventing Iran from continuing to engage in illicit financial transactions that support nuclear proliferation. Rather than being overly focused on targeted and economic sanctions, which have been ineffective in preventing Iranian hedging, more focus should be placed on activity-based sanctions. As the future of the JCPOA looks increasingly bleak each day, utilizing tools which will effectively delay the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Iran are more important than ever.