The renewed sanctions only serve to further isolate the U.S. from the international community and bring economic hardship home in the form of higher oil prices.
On Monday, Washington re-imposed sanctions against Iran. Touted by U.S. President Donald Trump as the “strongest we’ve ever imposed,” the renewed sanctions expand the restrictions in effect prior to the 2015 nuclear deal.
As the United States launches direct attacks on Iran’s economy through these increased sanctions, Iran is resisting by vowing to continue selling oil on the international market regardless of the consequences.
With U.S. allies like Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and South Korea doing everything in their power to continue doing business with Iranian entities, the renewed sanctions from Washington only serve to further isolate the U.S. from the international community and bring economic hardship home in the form of higher oil prices.
Donald Trump isn’t bluffing; the current round of sanctions target 1,350 individuals, organizations, operators, and companies with a heavy focus on crippling Iran’s shipping, banking, oil, aviation, and energy sectors.
Washington’s ultimate goal is to bring Iran’s oil exports down to zero.
Yet the Iran of today is not the Iran that existed prior to 2015. Since signing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or “nuclear deal,” investment has flooded into Iran as Tehran has developed trade ties with nations including France, Germany, South Korea, among many others.
Amid mounting tensions over the weekend surrounding the renewal of the sanctions, President Trump tweeted a passive-aggressive attack on Tehran featuring an image of himself with the text “sanctions are coming” rendered in a style clearly referencing the HBO series Game of Thrones.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2018
Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, who commands the Quds Force of the country’s Revolutionary Guards, swiftly responded to Trump’s tweet with an image of his own reading, “I will stand against you.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has already vowed to break the sanctions, telling his economic ministry:
American [officials] say Iran would bypass the sanctions; that’s right, we announce with great pride that we will bypass your illegal and cruel sanctions, because your sanctions are cruel, wrong and against the international law.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quick to point out that eight countries have already sought and received temporary exemptions from the new round of sanctions, likely due to the pressure the renewed sanctions place on global oil supply.
Europe is also determined to continue conducting business with Tehran and plans to keep their promise to adhere to the 2015 nuclear accord. While the European Union has failed to establish a mechanism continue trade with Iran at this point, such plans are ostensibly in the works.
On Friday, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, along with the foreign relations and finance ministers of Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, issued a joint statement confirming their commitment to establish a “Special Purpose Vehicle,” such as a new system governing trade with Iran. Without such a backdoor to continue trade, Washington’s renewed sanctions against Tehran could negatively impact Europe’s economy.
Under the potential plan, European investors and businesses would be able to continue all legitimate business with Iran free from the threat of reprisal by the U.S. for violating sanctions. In the statement, European leaders also vowed to continue working with Russia and China, who also signed on to the six-party nuclear deal.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that these renewed sanctions come just one day before U.S. midterm elections, where the Trump administration seeks to rally public support behind the Republican party. At this point, the question of whether Washington will actually follow through with enforcing the sanctions remains unclear.
Top Photo | Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, present details of the new sanctions on Iran, at the Foreign Press Center in Washington, Nov. 5, 2018. J. Scott Applewhite | AP
Randi Nord is a MintPress News staff writer. She is also co-founder of Geopolitics Alert where she covers U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East with a special focus on Yemen.