The UN Security Council wrestled with this question again in June and came up with the same old answer: another round of sanctions. There was majority support from the 15 members because many were worried the Iranians might be secretly trying to build a nuclear bomb.
But no votes from Turkey and Brazil showed cracks in the consensus, a signal of unease with a policy that has so far failed to change Iran's behaviour and of fears that it may lead to confrontation.
Even amongst those Iranians most opposed to their government, there is little appetite for sanctions. One of the most outspoken is Hamid Dabashi, a professor of Persian studies at New York's Columbia University.
Mr Dabashi supports the opposition Green Movement, launched after Iran's controversial presidential election last year. He gives space to dissident Iranian voices, among them artists and musicians, in weekly webcasts which have become tribunes for change in Iran.
But Mr Dabashi believes sanctions will hurt Iran's people rather than its leaders. And he is afraid they could be used as a pretext to further repress the struggle for democratic rights.
"The most enduring effect of the sanctions would be that the budding civil rights movement would be immediately severely crushed," he says.
"In fact, [its members] would be blamed for the sanctions."
Even the head of the CI... >>>
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