Date of Award

Spring 5-5-2021

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science and International Affairs

Department Chair or Program Director

Larus, Elizabeth

First Advisor

Davidson, Jason

Second Advisor

Martinez, Melissa

Major or Concentration

Political Science


The Trump Administration implemented a series of intense economic sanctions against the Venezuelan government in 2019 and 2020 in an effort to oust autocratic President Nicolas Maduro. After two years of the U.S. targeting the Venezuelan oil industry with these measures, Maduro remains entrenched in power. Alternatively, similar measures against Iran were ultimately successful in compelling the Islamic Republic to participate in negotiations that led to the Iran Nuclear Deal of 2015. The student researcher endeavors to answer why sanctions were successful in Iran, but not Venezuela. By analyzing each case from three perspectives (i.e., target-centric approach, third party-centric approach, and sender-centric approach), the student synthesizes an explanation for the outcomes of both sanctions episodes. Based on the findings from the two case studies, the student offers five policy implications that might inform future U.S. administrations in implementing maximum pressure economic sanctions.