The Trump administration has opted to not certify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA, setting in motion the exit from the deal by the United States. The U.S. Congress now has 60 days to decide if they are going to reinstitute the sanctions on Iran or not. President Trump has indicated that he has a two-stage approach, either Congress will reinstitute the sanctions or he will act and remove the United States from the deal.
The international community seems divided regarding the United States leaving the 2015 nuclear agreement. Previous administrations had been willing to work with Iran, ignoring human rights violations to achieve a supposed change of heart by the regime in terms of its nuclear proliferation. Yet, Iran’s leaders have not allowed inspections of its military sites, calling into question whether or not they were keeping to the limits of the agreement.
The Trump administration has signaled a real change in U.S. policy, which is having an impact throughout the region. No matter where individual countries have stood on the issue of Iran’s influence, it is clear that previous U.S. policy has directly or indirectly supported the Iranian regime, at the cost of the Iranian people.
However, there has been an increased pressure from this administration regarding the human rights abuses and the oppression of the Iranian people. President Trump himself has said that he is with the Iranian people and argued that Iran has violated the spirit of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Trump administration has also argued that the JCPOA is against U.S. national security interests.
Countries throughout the Middle East have welcomed the shift, noting how Iran’s influence has increased the instability throughout the region. Others point to the troubled economy in Iran, even as the regime spends billions on various military objectives throughout the region, including supporting various militias.
The Trump administration has also ended years of appeasement and rapprochement that has given Tehran concessions, not based on actions, but promises that they haven’t delivered on. At the same time, the U.S. has only recently issued a federal court ruling that ordered the Obama administration to lift the terrorist designation against the PMOI/MEK, which is part of the Iranian resistance known as the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran.
But there has been plenty of push back by Iran and its lobbies. They have threated the Trump administration, calling the security of American troops into question if he moved forward with not certifying the Iranian regime’s actions. It seems to indicate that Iran needs the JCPOA to remain intact and that the sanctions remain lifted.
“Trump’s speech consisted of nothing but vulgar language, allegations, and bogus remarks,” said Iranian President Rouhani. “Trump apparently doesn’t know the JCPOA is not a bilateral document to act however he wishes…the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) is not just a military unit, but the Guards are in the hearts of [the Iranian] people.”
Another aspect of the Trump administration strategy is to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization. In the past, associates of the IRGC have been given the designation, but not the IRGC as a whole. This can have an even greater impact on the Iranian economy, as the IRGC plays such a pivotal role in the economy. This designation could have an even greater impact complimented by Congress reinstituting the sanctions that were lifted under the JCPOA. The U.S. Treasury Department and the State Department coordinate to impose these sanctions and restrictions on any organizations designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).
“If the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American Army to be like Islamic State all around the world,” said Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC.
Yet, it is clear that the way forward between Iran and the United States is one where a new policy is coming into effect and also creating a path for other members of the international community to follow suit. The Iranian people will also feel the additional economic and social unrest, as the IRGC attempts to tighten its grip on the country in response to the new designation. Without the support of the past policies, the Iranian regime is finding itself in a position of fighting for its very survival as the international community and the Iranian people call the regime to account.