The bright spot of the Trump administration: sanctions on Iran

September 28, 2018

As a result of the daily chaos that engulfs the Trump administration, where tweet storms and the Russia probe dominate the news coverage, there is a tendency to overlook some of the achievements that the President deserves credit for.

His position on Iran comes to mind.

When President Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran Nuclear Agreement last spring, many on the left side of the political spectrum predicted that the Iranian regime would immediately restart their nuclear program and that the decision would come back to haunt the president.

They were wrong.

In fact, President Trump’s decision has unleashed a fury of economic pressure on Iran, who has opted to remain in the fraying nuclear agreement in hopes of salvaging economic relations with the other signatories.

The fact that the Iranians remain desperate to stay in the 2015 nuclear agreement with the Russians, Chinese and Europeans, rather than rushing to resume their nuclear program, shows what a one-sided deal it was in the first place.

The agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), provided Iran with a whopping $150 billion in sanctions relief in exchange for a mere eight to 10 year delay in their enrichment of uranium. In the three years since the deal, the Ayatollah and his cronies in Tehran have used that money to fund terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as propping up Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime in Syria, rather than trying to help jumpstart their own economy, to the anger of the Iranian people.

This sparked mass protests throughout the streets of Iran in December 2017, where ordinary citizens voiced their frustrations with the regime. They chanted “help us, not Gaza,” referring to the regime’s support of Hamas, as well as “leave Syria alone and deal with Iran.”

So as a result of the poorly negotiated 2015 agreement, the Iranian regime was emboldened and its people grew restless. American allies in the region, including Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia all felt threatened.

But thankfully, with Trump’s decision to pull out of JCPOA on May 8, the results have been outstanding in the short term. First, by reimposing crippling sanctions on the Iranian regime, the United States put pressure on international companies to stop doing business with the Iranians. This has paid off, as dozens of European and Asian firms, from Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group to the French automotive manufacturer Peugeot, have fled the Iranian market since Trump scuttled the nuclear deal.

As The New York Times (NYT), not exactly a Trump-friendly newspaper, reported on Sept. 19, the administration’s sanctions targeting Iranian oil have paid off, with little-to-no repercussions for the global oil market. “Iran’s crude oil exports are plummeting. International oil companies, including those from countries that are still committed to the nuclear agreement, are bailing out of deals with Tehran. And remarkably, the price of oil in the United States has risen only modestly while gasoline prices have essentially remained flat,” according to the NYT article.

And most important of all, Iran has not resumed their enrichment of uranium, knowing full well that doing so would only further dampen their country’s economic standing.

The ball is now in Iran’s court: will they be willing to negotiate a new agreement and commit to complete denuclearization, or will they continue down their current path towards economic isolation? If they pick the latter, it’ll only be a matter of time before the regime completely collapses.

So in the end, the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal has resulted in increased U.S. sanctions on the regime, a sharp decline in economic relations between the international business community and Iran, and the regime’s willingness to remain in what’s left of the agreement, neglecting to restart their nuclear program.

Not bad if you ask me. 

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