16:34 GMT24 November 2020
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    New US Sanctions Law Against Russia, Iran, N Korea Signed: Consequences (91)

    The US continues its political and economic pressure over Iran, with a new package of restrictions recently approved by Washington. However, Tehran has the potential, including in military terms, to create an insurmountable obstacle for the US policy of sanctions and threats.

    New Sanctions

    On Wednesday, United States President Donald Trump signed into law a new batch of sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea.

    In particular, the law imposes punitive measures against Tehran over the country's ballistic weapons program, detention of US citizens, human rights abuses and terrorist activities across the Middle East and North Africa.

    Last week, the US Treasury Department imposed secondary sanctions on six Iranian entities. According to a statement, the restrictions were imposed in response to Iran’s claimed launch of a Simorgh satellite in late-July.

    "The new US sanctions against Iran make no sense. Such measures have never worked. Cuba and North Korea are good examples. Apparently, the sanctions are aimed at fueling a new conflict in the Middle East, in order to make more arms deals in the region," RIA Novosti contributor and political commentator Alexander Khrolenko wrote in an analytical piece.

    Meanwhile, Tehran has prepared a list of 16 counter-measures. According to Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, some of them will relate to modernization in the Iranian military.

    Araghchi also said that Tehran must give an appropriate response to the actions of the United States as they negatively affect implementation of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA).

    Two Forces, One Purpose

    Khrolenko suggested that Tehran will continue to bet on his military potential in order to prevent the US from aggression.

    Global Firepower recently placed the Iranian armed forces 21st on its global military ranking, higher than, for example, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.

    According to the Military Balance 2017 report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Iran has a military dominated with ageing hardware, but manned with well-trained and experienced personnel.

    The Iranian military is over 530,000 strong, with 400,000 in reserve. The largest branch of the Iranian military is the ground forces, which number 350,000 personnel. They have 1,616 tanks, 320 self-propelled howitzers and 2,000 towed artillery systems.

    The Iranian Navy has 398 vessels, including five frigates, 33 submarines and 230 patrol vessels and boats. The Iranian Air Force operates 477 planes and helicopters.

    "In military terms, Iran would be a hard nut to crack for the US, not even mentioning the Iranian missile program. Saudi Arabia, Washington’s main ally in the Middle East, could rival Iran only in a coalition with its neighbors," Khrolenko wrote.

    This picture released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Saturday, July 22, 2017, shows Sayyad-3 air defense missiles during inauguration of its production line at an undisclosed location, Iran, according to official information released. Sayyad-3 is an upgrade to previous versions of the missile
    © AP Photo / Iran Defense Ministry
    Moreover, an important element of the Iranian military is the fact that it is divided into two parallel structures, the conventional military (Ground Forces, Air Force, Navy and Air Defense Force) and the Revolutionary Guards Corps which have their own Ground Force, Navy and Aerospace Force.
    Both structures have similar purposes and work closely together.

    "Possibly, such duplication is expected to enhance the capability of the Iranian military and promote competition between the branches. For the potential enemy, dealing with such a double force may get unpredictable," Khrolenko suggested.

    Mistaken Policy

    According to the author, Washington’s policy of portraying Tehran as a sponsor of global terrorism is not only absurd but also very dangerous. Many in the US know that, but Congress continues to pursue its geopolitical ambitions and the Trump team can do nothing to stop it.

    "But it is not only about immediate political and economic gains. Washington’s hostility towards Iran dates back to the epoch of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. The Revolution came 25 years after the CIA and the British intelligence toppled the democratically elected government to keep control over the Iranian oil industry. This insult still haunts Washington," the article reads.

    Another reason behind the US’ hostility towards Tehran is Iranian support for Hezbollah and Hamas, the main rivals of Israel. Moreover, Tel-Aviv sees the Iranian nuclear program as a military threat and has repeatedly urged the US to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. Another American ally, Saudi Arabia is also at odds with Iran, including their long-time rivalry for leadership in the Middle East.

    Nevertheless, according to Khrolenko, any attempt to resolve a complicated conflict with sanctions and military threats is a mistake. In the case of Iran, the US policy is likely to face an insurmountable obstacle.

    A recent article in The American Conservative reads, "The United States and its allies have imposed ever-tightening sanctions on North Korea to force that country to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Pyongyang’s repeated nuclear tests and its recent launches of an intercontinental ballistic missile demonstrate the utter futility of the sanctions strategy."

    New US Sanctions Law Against Russia, Iran, N Korea Signed: Consequences (91)


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