Trump administration slaps new sanctions on Iran but preserves nuclear deal

Bloomberg Politics notes that even as these new sanctions were announced, the Trump administration "notified Congress that it's continuing to waive sanctions, including restrictions on oil sales, that were eased under the 2015 deal between world powers and Iran to curb its nuclear program", based on an April finding that "Iran is complying with its side of the deal".

The new sanctions, issued by the Treasury Department, cover two senior Iranian defense officials, an Iranian company, a Chinese man, and three Chinese companies. The waivers, which exempt foreign companies that do business with Iran from U.S. sanctions still on the books, will expire before Iranian's go to the polls to elect their next president on Friday.

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump took a range of positions, saying he would vigorously enforce the deal on some days and vowing to "dismantle the disastrous deal" on other days.

But on Wednesday, according to a statement from the State Department, "the United States continues to waive sanctions as required to continue implementing USA sanctions-lifting commitments in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action".

Under the 2015 deal, the USA and other world powers eased economic sanctions after the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran took steps to pull its nuclear program back from the brink of weapons capability. "Above all, the United States will never allow the regime in Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon".

The administration's announcement came before Iran holds a presidential election on Friday, and it's unclear if Trump's strident rhetoric - and the fate of the nuclear deal - will shape the outcome. But the USA also announced new unrelated sanctions in a bid to show it wasn't letting Tehran off the hook. But continuing the sanctions relief requires the renewal of a six-month waiver. However Tillerson said the White House will "evaluate whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] is vital to the national security interests of the United States". Better to have a plan to deal with Iran in place before Trump demands changes in the agreement that would force the Iranians to either limit their nuclear program or scuttle the deal.

Washington has maintained a raft of other sanctions related to human rights and the missile programme that continue to stifle Iran's efforts to rebuild its foreign trade.

China has long expressed its dissatisfaction with the U.S.' use of the sanctions weapon, which frequently affects Chinese individuals and companies allegedly linked to weapons or nuclear development in Iran or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Still, the US paired the announcement with new, unrelated sanctions that go after Iran for a ballistic missiles program that Washington fears could target American interests in the Middle East or key allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.

One of the officials is the director of Iran's Shahid Bakeri Industries Group.

Since then his rhetoric against this particular agreement has softened, however, he has simultaneously hardened his stance against other non-nuclear issues his administration has with Iran and launched a government-wide review of the Iranian state's policies.

  • Leroy Wright