WASHINGTON, April 18 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama should rethink how likely harsh penalties over Iran's nuclear program are to yield concessions from Tehran, a report said.
In the report, issued Wednesday by the Iran Project, former diplomats and experts suggest the policy of punishing Iran for its nuclear program may be backfiring. They say the sanctions could have contributed to "an increase in repression and corruption within Iran" and "may be sowing the seeds of long-term alienation" between the people of Iran and the United States, The New York Times reported.
"I fundamentally believe that the balance between sanctions and diplomacy has been misaligned," Thomas R. Pickering, one of the report's authors who was among the State Department's highest-ranking career diplomats, told the Times.
Pickering also argued Obama should "stop anything that is peripheral, that is not buying us much time" in slowing Iran's progress in its nuclear aspirations.
Obama and the State Department have maintained the sanctions imposed support diplomacy and the administration would keep that approach.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement a dual track approach of "rigorous sanctions and serious negotiations is the right approach. However, the onus is on Iran to take the next steps and move the process forward."
Commenting on a report that diplomats say Iran added high-tech machines at its main uranium-enrichment site and whether it suggested the U.S. approach wasn't working, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the Obama administration has undertaken efforts to bring together the international community in opposition to Iran's nuclear program.
"The international community is now united in our opposition, and we've worked with our international allies and partners to isolate the Iranian regime and put in place the toughest sanctions that have ever been put in place against them," Earnest said during the daily briefing.
There have been indications that sanctions "are having an impact on the nation of Iran," Earnest said.
"And the president has been pretty clear about his determination to ensure" that Iran lives up to its commitments to the international community," the spokesman said.