The sanctions imposed recently against Iran by the United Nations, and later separately by the US Congress, have one thing in common. Both were driven by the US at the instigation of Israel.
But they are also, I believe, generally misunderstood. Sanctions are normally intended to alter the behavior of the country being sanctioned — to punish it for what it is doing, to keep it from continuing practices or policies others find objectionable, or both.
And overtly, that is the function of these sanctions. But that is not their actual purpose.
Now, I do not know whether Iran’s government has a hidden military agenda to its nuclear program. Given Israel’s own nuclear capabilities, and the very different fates of Iraq (which had no nuclear weapons) and North Korea (which did), any sensible country anywhere on Israel’s enemies list — which is by extension today America’s target list — would acquire a deliverable nuclear capability by any means whatsoever as soon as possible.
But the reality is to see sanctions against Iran in the same light as inspections for the non-existent WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) in Iraq in 2002-2003. In those days, the US and its close partners kept insisting that Iraq had WMDs when none of the inspectors on the ground, including the US representatives, found or believed it had.