In an odd twist, the Trump administration is continuing its review of Iran’s latest actions in regards to the nuclear agreement and issuing sanctions against specific Iranians, but is still certifying the regime as compliant for the second time. However, they argue that Iran is “unquestionably in default of the spirit” of the agreement. The administration is also extending Iran’s relief from nuclear-related sanctions while a long-running review of Iran policy drags on.
The administration had faced a midnight deadline to indicate whether Iran was complying or not. The decision preserves the current status quo, despite President Trump’s repeated statements that the nuclear agreement is a bad deal and must be renegotiated. An administration official confirmed that the decision to certify was temporarily on hold, because the President wanted to consider his options and hear what would happen if he declared Iran non-compliant.
Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware says Trump should sign those sanctions immediately if the House passes them. He says he also wants a “successor agreement” to the nuclear deal to ensure the restrictions stay in place long-term.
The Trump administration is slapping new sanctions on 18 Iranian individuals, groups and networks over non-nuclear behavior. This includes the support for ballistic missile development.
“Iran continues to support terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad that threaten Israel and stability in the Middle East,” said a statement released by the U.S. State Department.
The Treasure Department is targeting seven groups and five people that aided Iran’s military or its elite Revolutionary Guard (IRGC). The sanctions are also targeting a transnational criminal group based in Iran and three people associated with it, according to U.S. representatives.
“The United States remains deeply concerned about Iran’s malign activities across the Middle East which undermine regional stability, security and prosperity,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. She also noted that Iran’s support for U.S.-designated terrorist groups, militias, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as domestic human rights concerns.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry, who has been against any new sanctions, condemned the latest U.S. sanctions. Despite the fact that sanctions brought Iran to the table to negotiate the nuclear agreement, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif blasted U.S. sanctions. “I think people in Washington should get it through their minds that sanctions are a liability, not an asset,” he told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
At the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) semi-annual session, NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi said, “The experience of the past three decades has proven a major truth that if we adhere to our nationalist, patriotic, and democratic principles,…the world will also move step by step to stand by our side.”
These latest sanctions are supported by the NCRI, which has opposed the nuclear agreement as part of an appeasement policy by the international community. However, the NCRI also encouraged the designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist entity and its expulsion from the Middle East region.
“The IRGC serves as the guarantee to preserve the entirety of the religious fascism ruling Iran and is the main entity responsible for domestic suppression, the export of terrorism and extremism, and obtaining weapons of mass destruction, namely nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles,” said the NCRI statement.
The NCRI encouraged the international community to maintain a firm approach with the regime, which is viewed as the most active state sponsor of terrorism and extremism.