While completing a general assessment of the fourth round of international sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic of Iran, this paper assumes that even if the sanctions successfully target the country’s economic sector, they will not reach their main objective, which is to suspend the Iranian nuclear energy program within the timetable desired by the West. Based on such an assumption, the alternative to sanctions is war (with different aims and various degrees of intensity) or containment. In this review, it will be indicated that as war is rejected during the period in question, U.S. policy in the last three decades, i.e. containment through dexterity and with newer dimensions, will continue and severe sanctions will be used as the main element of containment. This paper includes sanctions, containment and war as three fundamental concepts. As sanctions are futile in stopping the Iranian nuclear program, the questions then are why and how Washington is stepping up sanctions within the framework of its containment policy alongside talk of war? The hypothesis is that the talk of war as a means to support diplomacy will remain as the main pillar of U.S. containment policy.