Following a damning report from the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran this year, the U.S. and European government took a tough economic line on Iran.
U.S. lawmakers last week said new sanctions on Iran would make it more difficult for the country to sell oil, meaning its federal coffers would dwindle. The White House, however, suggested it would tread carefully because of energy concerns.
Daniel Yergin, an energy analyst and chairman of IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates, told NPR that Western allies have tough decisions to make on Iran.
"There are only trade-offs, and many of the trade-offs are difficult ones," he said.
Iran is one of the top oil producers among members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. OPEC this month said it was concerned about the economic consequences of a tight energy market.
Mark Dubowitz, executive director of hawkish Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told NPR that Europe has even tougher choices to make in the wake of Gazprom's decision to cut European gas through Ukraine in 2009.
"Either Europe remains dependent on Russia for its natural gas and faces a situation like it did with the dispute between Russia and the Ukraine, or Europe becomes more and more dependent on Iran," he said.