In Iran, human rights violations are a way of life. Many individuals have dealt with harsh punishments, from the loss of limbs and torture to long prison terms and even death by public execution. The human rights violations, however, come with an economic price, as demonstrated by the fact that the European Union recently extended sanctions on Iran over its human rights violations. Those sanctions are the only remaining sanctions that the EU has over Iran, and those have been extended to April of 2019.
The current sanctions include asset freezes and travel bans against 82 people and one entity. There is also a prohibition of exports of equipment for internal repression and monitoring telecommunications.
The bloc is also preparing for a clash with the United States over whether to impose a new set of penalties, as the EU looks to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal.
U.S. President Trump has not been shy about expressing his criticisms of the nuclear deal and has even laid a deadline for the nuclear deal to be modified or he will reimpose the sanctions that had previously been waived by the nuclear deal. For an Iranian economy that is struggling, this could be a huge blow for the country.
Trump’s deadline of May 12 is looming, and speculation regarding the fate of the agreement are rampant. The regime is trying to push the idea that the U.S. withdrawing from the deal could spark a new war in the Middle East, thus trying to use fear to sway public opinion.
The EU sees the nuclear deal as a pact worth saving, because Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear ambitions for at least a decade. For many of the leaders of the EU, the question is how to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities, while still addressing the regime’s actions in other areas, including its military operations throughout the region and its human rights violations.
France, for example, is pushing for new sanctions over Iran’s missile program and its involvement in multiple conflicts throughout the region, most notably in Syria. The idea is to let President Trump know that the EU is listening to his concerns when it comes to Iran.
On the other hand, Italy is opposing any new sanctions, fearing that the move would negatively impact the economic contracts as Iran opens up to the international community after decades of its economy being isolated. The Italian government also noted that the new sanctions are not a guarantee that Trump is going to stick with the nuclear deal.
The decision to add new sanctions to the ones that are already being imposed on Iran is a source of division between the EU members and one that will require them to all be in agreement before they can be imposed.