Trump Admin Plans to Pile On More Iran Sanctions Every Week Until Biden’s Inauguration
Wants to make it impossible for Biden to resurrect the nuclear peace deal
According to a report from Axios, the Trump administration is coordinating with Israel and several Gulf states to slap sanctions on Iran every week until Joe Biden is inaugurated as president on January 20th.
The report was published on Sunday and cites Israeli sources who said the Trump administration plans to make it as difficult as possible for Biden to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. “The goal is to slap as many sanctions as possible on Iran until January 20th,” one source said.
The sanctions will be imposed on Iran for its ballistic missiles program, the Islamic Republic’s support for groups in other countries in the Middle East, and alleged human rights violations.
One source said Trump’s envoy for Iran, Elliot Abrams, said the administration wants to announce a new set of sanctions on Iran every week until January 20th. Speaking to reporters in Israel on Monday, Abrams confirmed the plan for a set of new sanctions but downplayed the idea that they were related to the election.
“We have a maximum pressure sanctions program. If you look at September and October, you will see sanctions being put in place. This will continue in November and December, because it’s unrelated to politics, it’s unrelated to elections. It’s the foreign policy of the US, and it’s based on Iran’s conduct,” Abrams said.
After his visit to Israel, Abrams is expected to visit the UAE and Saudi Arabia to discuss sanctions on Iran.
On Monday, anonymous sources told Reuters that the Trump administration is gearing up to sanction Iranians for their alleged role in violence against demonstrators during protests in the country last year. These sanctions could come as early as next week.
Biden has said he plans to work with Iran to return to the 2015 nuclear deal. But the former vice president will face pressure from hawks in Congress and in Israel to negotiate a tougher deal, something Iran would never agree to without sanctions relief.
Speaking to Israeli reporters, US Special Envoy to Iran Elliott Abrams said US talks with Iran are “inevitable” under Joe Biden, and that Biden could try to use Trump sanctions to get a new nuclear deal. He expressed doubt Biden would even be able to revive the nuclear deal as it existed previously.
That’s by design. The Trump Administration has been imposing new sanctions against Iran for months explicitly to limit Biden’s options when he takes office. Abrams says this is “unrelated to politics,” and that it would not be simple to go back to the deal anymore.
Abrams used sanctions on Iranian ambassadors as an example, saying that was unrelated to politics. He doubted Biden would try to ease sanctions, and further said he’s not clear if its politically possible.
Abrams went on to declare those sanctions “leverage,” though it’s not clear US negotiators would have any leverage at all if even the US can’t undo Trump-era sanctions. If anything, this seems an effort to solidify permanent US hostility.