Washington Is Left Isolated as It Passes Renewed Sanctions Against Iran
After the US State Department claimed that Tehran did not meet the terms of the “nuclear deal,” Washington renewed its anti-Iranian sanctions on Monday. The UN and the EU found the claims made by Washington to be unconvincing and refused to join the renewed sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal two years ago, claiming that Tehran was ostensibly and secretly developing a nuclear weapons program, but did not provide any evidence and demanded renewed sanctions. Russia, China and the EU condemned Washington’s actions, stressing that the nuclear deal will continue to be valid without the US. Germany, France and Britain even passed a special law allowing companies to cooperate with Iran and avoid US pressure through a special financial mechanism, INSTEX.
None-the-less, Washington announced that it is not taking a step back from its sanctions against Iran, whilst simultaneously refusing the provide evidence how Tehran breached the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or more commonly known as the nuclear deal, created in 2015. The State Department declared:
“The UN arms embargo on Iran is now re-imposed indefinitely, and we will ensure that it remains in place until Iran changes its behaviour. The new executive order gives us the tools to hold accountable actors who seek to evade the embargo.”
Pompeo also said Trump issued an executive order
“that is a new and powerful tool to enforce the UN arms embargo, and to hold those who seek to evade those sanctions accountable,” while also adding that “Our actions today are a warning that should be heard worldwide. No matter who you are if you ignore UN sanctions, you risk sanctions.”
Since Trump withdrew the US from the nuclear deal on May 8, 2018 Tehran has taken a wait-and-see approach in the hope that the Europeans will succeed in convincing Washington to not drive away foreign investments from Iran.
Formally, the nuclear deal is still valid despite the US withdrawal, but confidence is beginning to diminish. The US fear that the UN-imposed arms embargo on Tehran will be lifted on October 18. Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait believe Iran will acquire air defense systems and modern fighter jets from Russia and China. This will militarily strengthen Iran but aggravate its neighbors.
France, Germany and Britain share the American concern, but did not support Washington’s August proposal to extend the arms embargo on Iran. Russia and China have made it clear that they will block all US efforts. For its part, Iran has stated that lifting the arms embargo will finally complete the nuclear deal.
Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies said to Foreign Policy magazine that the US does not need multilateral support to make a sanctions’ snapback work because of the global dominance of the US dollar and American power in international financial markets. However, Gérard Araud, former French Ambassador to Israel, the UN and the US, sarcastically but effectively highlighted on Twitter that Dubowitz’s claims “is a way of saying: ‘We are isolated, our allies are not supporting us, actually the whole UN Security Council opposes our move but we don’t care because might is right’. A coherent vision of international relations….”
Although the US is attempting to portray its sanctions against Iran as being from a position of power, Araud perfectly highlighted that this debacle has exposed how isolated Washington is from the UN Security Council and from some of its closest allies like the British and the Germans.
However, sanctions could still scare foreign business from going to Iran, especially if the arms embargo is lifted in October which will undoubtedly lead to an increase in US pressure against the Islamic Republic. European legislation determines that an arms embargo will continue against Iran until 2023, meaning that if the UN arms embargo is lifted next month, the EU will not be able to sell weapons to the Islamic Republic for another few years. This will be to the advantage of Russia and China as they will be able to monopolize weapon sales to Iran.
What may at first appear curious, the Iranian authorities do not want to exacerbate the situation before the presidential election in the US for two reasons:
Tehran does not want to give Trump any major talking points in the lead up to the November presidential elections.
There is every opportunity that the US could return to the nuclear deal if Democrat President Candidate Joe Biden is successful in replacing Trump.
In addition, the EU, Russia, China and the UN are now on Iran’s side, further rendering an Iranian verbal blasting against Washington unnecessary. More importantly, Iran has seen that the US is completely isolated in their systemic aggression against them.