US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pledged more sanctions on Iran "in the coming weeks and months", while the US Treasury Department has updated its list of newly sanctioned individuals and companies.
The Maximum Pressure campaign against the Iranian regime continues to be effective. It deprives the regime of funds to carry out its malign activities. Reducing that pressure is a dangerous choice, bound to weaken new regional partnerships for peace and strengthen the regime.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 18, 2020
The new batch of sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic includes restrictions against nine individuals and dozens of entities, including the Khamenei-linked Bonyad Mostazafan foundation and Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, as per the US Treasury Department website.
"The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control took action today against a key patronage network for the Supreme Leader of Iran, the Islamic Revolution Mostazafan Foundation (Bonyad Mostazafan, or the Foundation), an immense conglomerate of some 160 holdings in key sectors of Iran’s economy, including finance, energy, construction, and mining," the Treasury website reads.
Last week, the US introduced limitations targeting four high-profile Iranians and six local companies, with the move closely following Washington's sanctions slapped on the Islamic Republic’s oil sector, including the Iranian Ministry of Petroleum.
According to Russia's permanent representative in Vienna, the US must cancel without further delay all the unilateral sanctions against Iran, after it quit the JCPOA in 2018.
Axios reported around that time that the Trump administration, which has been persisting in its crackdown on Iran, aimed to use the restrictions to make life all the more difficult for Democrat Joe Biden, who is projected to win the presidential election and would perhaps strive to get the US back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement, which Trump unilaterally withdrew from back in May 2018. According to the US news website, which cited two unnamed Israeli sources briefed on a projected wave of anti-Iran limitations, the Trump administration is set to achieve the plan by coordinating with Tel Aviv and other Gulf states, before the 20 January inauguration of a new president.
Biden, for his part, promised while campaigning for the presidency to move quickly to re-join the nuclear deal with Iran, so long as Iran likewise complies with the provisions of the deal.
However, US special envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams voiced doubt that Joe Biden would be able to rid Iran of the sanctions imposed by Donald Trump.
"Legally, it is correct that a president has the right to reverse any executive act that he took or that a previous president took. Whether it is advisable and politically possible is a different question”, Abrams said, noting that the US persist in exercising the poliies of maximum pressure on Tehran in the foreseeable future.
“It’s unrelated to politics, it has nothing to do with the elections. It’s the foreign policy of the US".
Milestone JCPOA Deal
The bilateral tensions between Washington and Tehran have severely intensified since the Trump team's unilateral decision to pull out from the P5+1 2015 Iran nuclear deal clinched under Barack Obama in 2015 and started to reinstate Washington's sanctions that had been lifted under the agreement terms. All the other signatories to the deal, namely the UK, China, Germany, and Russia denounced the move as poorly motivated and potentially undermining other countries' relationship, economic ties among them, with Tehran.
As stipulated by the landmark accord, the Islamic Republic was to curb its nuclear programme and allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to visit its plants in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions and the arms embargo. The agreement followed years of tensions between Iran and the international community over claims that Tehran was scrambling to covertly develop nuclear weapons and undermine international security and peace - allegations the country dismissed as rumours and lies.