Addiction to sanctions’ is how Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described Washington’s latest moves. He reiterated that sanctions may produce economic hardship, but not political outcomes in Iran. On Monday, the Spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry Bahram Ghasemi addressed the formation of the Iran Action Group by the US Department of State as an attempt to drive a psychological war against Iran that won’t get the US anywhere. Last Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the formation of the Iran Action Group to further execute the Trump Administration’s Iran strategy for addressing all components of the so-called Iranian threat. Secretary Pompeo named Brian Hook who is currently the State Department’s Director of Policy Planning to run the group with a title of ‘Special Representative for Iran’. Washington left the JCPOA three months ago and re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s non-energy sectors earlier this month, and the United States will later slap the remaining sanctions on areas such as energy and shipping on November 5th.
The re-imposition of sanctions will have a great impact on Iran’s domestic politics because the administration of Hassan Rouhani essentially came into power five years ago on a mandate to improve Iran’s economy vis-à-vis a nuclear deal and of course, the Rouhani government was able to reach an agreement with the global community. Nevertheless, since the United States decided to withdraw from the JCPOA, a lot of the sanctions that had been lifted are now coming back into effect and even though Iran is continuing to abide by the deal with the Europeans, as well as the Chinese and the Russians, Iran is finding that a lot of companies are actually leaving Iran because the United States is threatening them with sanctions. If this trend continues and the Iranian economy deteriorates, then that would have negative consequences for Rouhani’s support and political backing with parliamentary elections taking place next year.
There is a severe level of distrust of the United States within Iran. The reason for that is because the JCPOA was the result of several years of intense diplomacy and it was enshrined in a UN Security Council Resolution which is international law. Nevertheless, the United States decided to withdraw even though Iran was abiding by the agreement eleven times according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The issue Iran is trying to figure out now is if the United States cannot be trusted regarding the current deal; and how can Iran negotiate another deal as President Trump points out as a supposedly more comprehensive deal? How can Iran trust the United States in abiding by a new deal if it is not abiding by the current deal? Iran is currently trying to continue the JCPOA with Russia, China, and Europe and the Europeans are working on an economic package for Iran to stay in the agreement despite large European companies pulling out. Nevertheless, the Trump Administration is acting like a bully in this regard, and they are even bullying their allies in Europe who want to preserve the JCPOA.
The United States is setting a very bad precedent about how to abide by multilateral agreements like the JCPOA which was scrapped by the current Administration, and American credibility is at stake around the world.
Unfortunately for European companies, they are not shielded by the European Union protection measures while the United States dominates the global financial system and this the primary reason why larger companies like French Total and German Allianz, are pulling out so then they will not be cut off by capital flows from the US or become victims of American sanctions. In a large way, it is unlikely that the Europeans are going to be able to fulfill their economic commitments as part of the JCPOA regardless. However, Russian and Chinese companies are more insulated from years of sanctions on their own countries by the US and they could fill the vacuum being left over from western companies pulling out of Iran.
The United States is setting a very bad precedent about how to abide by multilateral agreements like the JCPOA which was scrapped by the current Administration, and American credibility is at stake around the world. Not only is Washington acting as a disrupter towards the international trade system, but also as a disrupter of multilateralism for example between Iran, the Chinese, the Russians, and Europeans.
Given the decades of US sanctions on Iran which had no obvious impact on their nuclear ambitions which were enormous and Iran’s ability to effectively deal with most of the world via their open back door, one might expect what Trump has wrongfully done to have some, but not the intended effect. The US no longer holds Iranian assets in frozen accounts in US controlled banks. Nor can Trump effectively halt Iranian Commerce short of attacks and military intervention.
Iran will adjust the European Union and the United Nations is still committed to the Iran agreement. The Europeans are now completely committed in open and beneficial trade with Iran as is China and Russia plus anyone else including at least 30 American companies who have found ways to legally do business with Iran. What Trump is doing is not about Iran or the current nuclear deal; this is mostly Trump’s regional plan to appease and embolden both Saudi Arabia and Israel who have both increased their aggression against their neighbors and who fear Iran’s economic ability to seriously impact their hold on the region especially in oil exports and controlled costs. The US intentions to suppress Iran will fail and the only path remaining to appease Trump will be another needless and extensive war from which both Russia and China will be fierce opponents as they are completely committed to Iran. The world used diplomacy and common accord to effectively deal with Iran and it produced a gold standard landmark plan of action the world, and Iran endorsed.