During his campaign last year, Donald Trump announced his intentions of destroying the deal former president Barack Obama made with Iran. Yet many commentators have compared his latest sanctions towards Tehran as a continuation of the latter’s policy towards the Islamic Republic.
There is certainly an element of truth behind that statement. The US Treasury Department added 13 persons and 12 entities to their Specially Designated Nationals list for sponsoring ‘Iranian destablising activity.’ The designations are a retaliation to Iran’s recent flight-testing of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and the continuing activities of Quds Force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ external arm.
Former officials of the Obama administration have likened this move to an ‘escalation’ of Iran’s consistent support for terrorism and their desire to increase its number of ballistic missiles since the former president signed the deal in 2015.
For now, Trump has maintained the consensus in Congress to target Tehran for its missile expansion and other suspicious activities. But the Obama administration utterly failed in preventing the Islamic Republic from engaging in nuclear provocations. Since signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2015, Iran has tested 12 ballistic missiles.
With the President distracted by the immigration ban he imposed last week, it may be some time before the Iran Deal appears in the headlines again. But it is refreshing to hear Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu follow America’s lead and he pleaded with other nations to follow their example.
However, in the long-term, it would be worth the Trump administration targeting sectors of Iran’s economy that sponsor the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities and discourage foreign companies’ willingness to trade with Iranian markets. The IRGC is intertwined with 35% of Tehran’s economy with no threat of sanctions. Yet they are sponsoring terrorist groups that Israel’s Prime Minister is right to be anxious about, like Hezbollah.
The Islamic Republic should have its access to the dollar ended immediately. Iranian transactions are still entering America through the backdoor via EU transactions. The latter body has ignored these exchanges between Iranian and European banks. A halt to this activity would apply substantial economic pressure on the Middle Eastern state.
More effort needs to be invested into ensuring Iran does not breach the terms of the 2015 Deal. Trump’s recent Executive Orders have hit the ground running in the new administration and this suggests he intends to abide by his manifesto promises, more so than any other president in recent times. The former businessman stressed how inadequate the Iran Deal was last year. These sanctions are only the beginning of limitless possibilities that the President can pursue to deal with a nation that Obama was far too timid on, and do not make the mistake of thinking he has forgotten what was said about the 2015 Deal last year. This is just the start of things to come.