Just the Facts

Five Facts on U.S. Sanctions on Iran

By No Labels
August 7, 2018 | Blog

On Tuesday, the first wave of U.S. sanctions that were suspended following the signing of the Iran nuclear deal in 2015 snapped back into place.  The move, which comes several months after President Trump announced he would formally withdraw the United States from the multinational agreement designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program, has ignited intense debate around the globe and raised questions on topics ranging from trade to nuclear proliferation.  Here are five facts on U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran since 1979, when they were instituted in response to American diplomats being taken hostage in their Tehran embassy

The U.S. government continued to increase the scope and severity of the sanctions over numerous disputes such as “Iran’s support for international terrorism.” The threat of a nuclear Iran was first addressed in the Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act of 1992, which brought even more sanctions. Then, in 1997, President Clinton prohibited “virtually all trade and investment activities with Iran by US persons.”  Further sanctions were applied in 2006 with the enactment of U.N.-sponsored sanctions and then in 2010 by Congress as tensions between the two countries increased due to Iran’s nuclear activity.

The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran Nuclear deal, lifted economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iran halting the development of its nuclear weapons program

While certain sanctions remained in place, such as sanctions related to Iran’s missile technologies and its status as a state sponsor of terrorism, the bulk of sanctions imposed by the U.N., U.S., and other western powers were lifted following the finalization of the nuclear agreement.  President Trump seized on many of these issues when identifying three of his biggest concerns surrounding the deal. First, he argued that the deal allowed Iran to continue to develop and test ballistic missiles that could theoretically carry nuclear warheads. Additionally, the deal did not include restrictions on the Iranian government’s support of militant and terrorist groups throughout the Middle East. Finally, the deal included sunset provisions, which President Trump said would allow Iran to continue developing nuclear weapons in the future. Although the Trump Administration was able to renegotiate the first two provisions with the European co-signers — specifically France, the United Kingdom, and Germany — it backed out of the deal because it could not negotiate removal of the sunset clause.

President Trump announced a new set of sanctions on Iran aiming to “modify the Iranian regime’s behavior”

These new sanctions target the country’s ability to purchase goods such as coal, industrial software, U.S. dollars, and automotive products. The administration is using these sanctions as a bargaining tactic, forcing an already strained Iran to renegotiate the 2015 Nuclear Deal. More sanctions targeting oil exports are set to be imposed in November. On the morning of August 7, President Donald Trump tweeted, “these are the most biting sanctions ever imposed… I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”

This morning President Trump tweeted, “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States”

The EU foreign policy chief and the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and the U.K. responded in a joint statement, reaffirming their commitment to “protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran.” The United Kingdom’s minister of state of the Middle East clarified: If a company fears action taken against it “in response to American sanctions,” that company can be protected by an EU blocking statute. The Russian foreign ministry also released a statement that Moscow is “deeply disappointed by U.S. steps to reimpose its national sanctions against Iran.” Daimler, the German maker of Mercedes-Benz, already announced that it has canceled plans to expand in Iran due to the return of American sanctions.

President Trump’s decision to reimpose tariffs has received praise from within the Republican Party

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) tweeted that he was “encouraged by the Administration’s decision,” while Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) stressed that “Iran’s radical and dangerous behavior should not be coddled.” Meanwhile, Democrats have voiced concerns over the decisions’ impact on peace and the country’s relationship with its allies. Examples of lawmakers opposing the president’s action include Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA), with the latter stating that Trump’s move “only pushes us further from peace, further diminishes our credibility, and sours relationships with allies.”

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