While Obama’s administration attempted to reach a hand out to Iran in hopes of building a relationship, the Trump administration clearly lacks trust in the promises of Iran’s regime. As a result, while the Trump administration has announced that it will keep suspending nuclear-related sanctions on Iran as part of the nuclear deal, the administration is continuing to impose new sanctions based on Iran’s missile program.
New sanctions, along with a release of a report on the alleged human rights violations of Iran, are part of an attempt by the Trump administration to make clear its hostility toward Iran, but at the same time, avoid violating the 2015 nuclear agreement put in place by President Obama.
The latest announcements from the Trump administration were released two days before the Iranian election, where the next president is being decided. Trump aides also are conducting a broader review of U.S. policy toward Iran.
The newly imposed sanctions are aimed at seven targets, including two senior Iranian defense officials, an Iranian organization, and a China-based network that the United Sates alleged is “supporting Iran’s military by supplying millions of dollars’ worth of missile-applicable items”. Iran’s support for the Syrian regime is also been cited as a factor that is driving the new sanctions.
“This administration is committed to countering Iran’s destabilizing behavior, such as Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and support to the Assad regime,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “It is alarming that individuals involved with Iran’s missile program are assisting the brutal Assad regime, and we are taking action to curtail this behavior.”
The U.S. State Department also released its semi-annual report detailing existing U.S. sanctions on people who have allegedly committed human rights abuses in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Buried within that report, there was an acknowledgement that the administration will continue to waive the nuclear-related sanctions as required by the 2015 deal.
“Whether it’s imprisoning people arbitrarily, inflicting physical abuse and torture, or executing juvenile offenders, the Iranian regime has for decades committed egregious human rights violations against its own people and foreign nationals, and this pattern of behavior must come to an end,” said Stuart Jones, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Ambassador.
Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certified to Congress that Iran was meeting its obligations under the nuclear agreement, but he also focused in on Iran’s terrorism activities and its record of fostering instability within the region. Although the 2015 nuclear agreement means Iran is no longer under any nuclear related sanctions, the United States has maintained a number of other sanctions related to human rights, ballistic missiles, and its sponsorship of terrorism. As a result, U.S. businesses are largely forbidden from dealing with Iran, even with the lifting of some sanctions, which were meant to give the Iranian economy a much-needed lift.
Although Iran has seen some improvement in its economy since the nuclear deal was implemented, the changes have not come fast enough for many ordinary Iranians.