The Iranian Regime was perhaps hoping that the U.S. would bow to pressure and postpone or cancel the sanctions. However, just like U.S. President did not bow to pressure when it came to his decision about exiting the 2015 nuclear deal, he once again kept to his word and enforced the sanctions.
These latest sanctions are crippling for the Iranian regime because they hit the oil sector. Iran is OPEC’s third biggest producer of oil and the sanctions put severe restrictions on how much the country can sell. The sanctions are also to prevent clients of Iran from using the U.S. dollar in transactions and prohibit Iranian entities from trading via the American banking system.
If history is anything to go by, the Iranian regime will ride the situation out until it is completely desperate and then it will come looking for negotiations. It is certain that the regime will spend the immediate future trying to save face and downplay the consequences, but it is also certain that it cannot keep this up for very long.
The U.S. administration has given temporary exemptions to China, Japan, India, South Korea, Iraq and Turkey to continue importing Iranian oil. Here, the U.S. administration may be trying to appease allies after they requested more time to get their situations in order. This move should not be interpreted as a concession to Iran.
U.S. wants a better deal to be put on the table. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has listed a number of points that Iran must abide by before the United States will even consider negotiating. These included some crucial points that were omitted from the 2015 nuclear deal, or JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) as it is formally known, such as its human rights record, its belligerence and support of terrorism in the region and its ballistic missile program.
When the U.S. President announced that his country was exiting the nuclear deal, he made it very clear that it was because the deal – as it stood – did nothing but guarantee a nuclear arms race. He is very adamant that no deal in place is better than the JCPOA that was negotiated by former president Barack Obama.
The people of Iran, know that the pressure put on the regime is absolutely essential in their goal of a future free and democratic Iran. They have been calling for regime change for months and know that domestic pressure coupled with international pressure will be more than the regime can handle. The more pressure the better.