By Mahmoud Hakamian
The United States has been putting Iran under “maximum pressure” over the past few months. The Trump administration announced that the current campaign has the aim of making sure that the regime cannot continue funding terrorist proxy groups and militias across the region. President Donald Trump has also made it clear that he wants to bring Iran back to the negotiating table so that a more comprehensive deal can be carved – one that is a lot less one-sided than the current deal that the United States pulled out of last year.
Sanctions have increased in number and intensity since Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). One of the biggest blows to the Iranian regime has been the oil sanctions that oblige all foreign countries to cut their imports of Iranian oil right down to zero.
Another major blow to the regime was when the United States designated Iran’s notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organisation (FTO). It was an unprecedented move – no U.S. government has ever designated another country’s military as a terrorist organisation before.
When the European signatories of the nuclear deal announced that they would be setting up Instex, a special purpose vehicle, with the aim of helping Iran circumvent U.S. sanctions, the Trump administration issued warnings.
The Trump administration and a number of European leaders have clashed on several occasions when it comes to Iran. The U.S. Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Sigal Mandelker, warned that Instex could have serious repercussions.
Mandelker warned: “I urge you to carefully consider the potential sanctions exposure of Instex. Engaging in activities that run afoul of U.S. sanctions can result in severe consequences, including a loss of access to the U.S. financial system.”
And it appears that the Trump administration is keeping to its word with regards to its warnings that the U.S. sanctions should not be undermined. It was reported yesterday that a woman in New Jersey is facing several years in prison for helping smuggle aircraft parts and components into Iran.
Joyce Eliabachus is said to have been working with a resident of Iran, Peyman Amiri Larijani, and has been shipping parts to Iran via Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Newark attorney’s office has said that over $2 million worth of parts had been sent in at least 49 shipments between May 2015 and October 2017.
Several of the airlines that had been buying the parts had been officially designated by the United States as they were deemed to be a threat to economic interests and / or national security.
The U.S. Treasury Department’s promise to act “aggressively” to enforce the sanctions is a positive move in the fight against the Iran threat and hopefully the Europeans will take heed as their appeasement of the regime is damaging.
The regime is nearing an end. It is under too much economic, international and domestic pressure to ever be able to recover. In the meantime, pressure must be maintained or increased.