National Security

U.S. Readies New Sanctions on Iran

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The Trump administration is preparing a new round of sanctions on Tehran as the ayatollah courts arms agreements with China and Russia, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Planned sanctions "will have a very significant impact," special envoy for Iran Elliott Abrams told reporters. Abrams said the details of the sanctions will be rolled out on Monday.

The new round of sanctions comes as transatlantic allies in large part have left Washington alone to stare down Tehran. Last month, the United States failed to reimpose arms limitation sanctions on Iran at the U.N. Security Council, causing American policymakers to move to trigger "snapback," reimposing sanctions unilaterally under the Iran deal. 

Washington exited the Iran deal during the Trump administration, prompting questions about the enforceability of the "snapback." Such legal battles over its legitimacy have raged at recent international summits, but Washington maintains its reading of the law is correct and plans to reimpose the "snapback" on Saturday.

Iran has indeed violated the terms of previous agreements. Reporting by the Washington Free Beacon indicates that Iran has passed the threshold of nuclear materials allowed for by the Iran deal, while securing closer relationships with Russia and China that may include the sharing of military hardware and surveillance technology.

Some anticipate the new set of sanctions to be unveiled Monday will target Iran’s ability to import deadly weapons.

"If a Russian or Chinese defense firm tries to sell weapons to Iran, that firm and all the supporting institutions involved in a transaction would face secondary U.S. sanctions," said Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former White House official. "It all depends on how and if sanctions are enforced."

Democratic nominee Joe Biden has been consistently in favor of rejoining the Iran deal and has rejected the current administration's suite of policies in the Middle East. Prominent Democratic operatives and Obama-Biden administration officials have rejected any prospect of a Middle East peace deal like the one the current administration just inked at the Abraham Accords Tuesday.

"No, no, no, and no," former secretary of state John Kerry said in 2016 at a Brookings Institution event. "There will be no advanced and separate peace with the Arab world without the Palestinian process and the Palestinian peace. Everybody needs to understand that—that is a hard reality."