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Q&A: Will Iran nuclear sanctions work?

As a debate over Iran nuclear sanctions take front stage at the G8 meeting in Quebec today, The Monitor looks at how effective past sanctions have been and what new measures are being considered.

An Iranian citizen attends a protest demonstration in Budapest, Hungary. US and Europe worry that more sanctions might hurt Iran’s fragile opposition movement.

Karoly Arvai/Reuters

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As top officials at a G8 meeting in Quebec today called for the international community to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, the drumbeat for Iran nuclear sanctions is nearing a crescendo.

"We urge a heightened focus and stronger coordinated action, including sanctions if necessary, on the Iranian regime," said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper today. "Tehran must halt its nuclear activities and engage in peaceful dialogue. There is much at stake."

While Iran remains defiant, the United States and its allies are pushing forward – albeit cautiously, in an effort to balance the desire to punish the Tehran government against concerns that sanctions could undermine the country's opposition Green Movement. The US is now calling for the United Nations Security Council to impose targeted sanctions, and is working to wear down the resistance of other Security Council members, especially Russia and China.

The US accuses Iran of attempting to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes.

What sanctions have already been imposed on Iran?

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