The Iranian regime continues to face the realities of sanctions and changes in U.S. foreign policy as U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton announced during a press conference in Jerusalem that the Trump administration is determined to prevent Iran from developing its nuclear program.
After pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May, President Trump repeatedly pointed out the need for change by the regime in order for the U.S. to consider new talks or the repeal of any sanctions.
Bolton defends sanctions
During the conference, Bolton defended the sanctions that President Trump is re-imposing this month, along with the ones that are expected in November. He noted that the JCPOA gave the regime assets it could use to increase its military and terrorist operations throughout the region.
“What we want is massive change in the regime’s behavior. Regime change in Iran is not American policy,” said Bolton.
However, the Trump administration is also doing its best to strangle the Iranian oil and gas industry by denying waivers of the sanctions to allies who purchase oil from Iran. Economic sanctions are going to have a larger impact this time, as the Iranian economy is still struggling with high unemployment and inflation. The results have been increased protests, which are turning into anti-government rallies. The rial has also decreased in value ahead of the imposing of sanctions, leading the regime to impose rules for currency trading.
Iran argues sanctions ineffective as military activity increases
For the Iranian regime, the sanctions are causing more problems. While members of the Iranian government argue that they are an ineffective tool that has failed, companies are pulling out of Iran to avoid penalties from the U.S.
“We felt that the United States had learned that at least as far as Iran is concerned, sanctions do produce economic hardship but do not produce the political outcomes that they intended them to produce, and I thought that the Americans had learned that lesson. Unfortunately, I was wrong,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
This show of bravado is part of the regime’s efforts to stand up to the Trump administration, even as it continues military activities in Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon.
“Iranian activity in the region has continued to be belligerent: what they are doing in Iraq, what they are doing in Syria, what they are doing with Hezbollah in Lebanon, what they are doing in Yemen, what they have threatened to do in the Strait of Hormuz,” said Bolton.
The Iranian regime, through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have threatened to block the Strait in response to the U.S. call for a ban on Iranian oil and energy products.
Bolton also acknowledged that the regime will face pressure on other fronts besides sanctions, although he did not give any indication what those pressure points will be. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined 12 action points for the regime before the U.S. would move forward with talks earlier this year, although President Trump has opened the door to considering talks before all of those points are met.
Iranian officials have rejected the offer of talks, arguing that it would be pointless in light of the fact that the U.S. pulled out of the JCPOA.
Iranian resistance notes JCPOA priority over human rights
Europe maintains that it will continue to abide by the JCPOA, but critics note that it will be difficult to protect European companies from the penalties associated with sanctions. The Iranian resistance also pointed out that continued support for the JCPOA amounts to choosing the nuclear deal over human rights.
Many of the human rights violations and abuses in Iran were not addressed as part of the nuclear deal, at a time when the Iranian regime was open to negotiation. In the past 18 months, the U.S., under the Trump administration, issued fresh sanctions against at least 17 human rights abusers in Iran. At the same time, the EU has issued no such sanctions since the 2015 JCPOA, despite the fact that the regime has increased its human rights abuses.
The Trump administration expressed support for the Iranian people and their protests and demonstrations, while the EU has remained largely silent on the protests and offered limited support. The resistance, led by the coalition under the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), repeatedly have pointed out that there is no such thing as a moderate in the mullahs’ regime. They call for an end to the appeasement of the regime and for the international community to support the Iranian people as they work for a better and fairer Iran.