Esfandyar Batmanghelidj explains the significance of the new Trump administration sanctions designations announced yesterday:

While the designation of bonyads, which are best understood as holding companies, has been a common feature of US sanctions policy for over a decade, yesterday’s action actually reflects a significant break with sanctions policy under the Obama administration. Included among the targeted entities is Parsian Bank, one of Iran’s leading private sector banks and a vital conduit for trade with Europe, especially humanitarian trade [bold mine-DL].

In the previous sanctions period, Parsian had been among the Iranian banks that were not subject to secondary sanctions despite being designated along with the rest of the Iranian financial system. This was due to the fact that the Treasury Department had no derogatory information at the time to suggest the bank was engaged or linked to terrorist financing. Indeed, Parsian, established in 2001, has a reputation as among the most trustworthy and well-managed Iranian banks.

It has been clear for some time that the Trump administration intends to inflict collective punishment on the Iranian people, and this is the latest example of how they are doing it. While they feign concern for the population and claim to be exempting food and medicine from the sanctions, they are still targeting the financial institutions that are necessary to trade for these things. The administration is not only doing its best to strangle Iran’s economy and impoverish the population, but it is also effectively depriving Iranians of access to basic humanitarian goods.

The consequences of the designation will be serious and harmful:

Not only is the Parsian designation peripheral to the action against Bonyad Taavon Basij, but the eliminating the ability of the bank to engage in humanitarian trade surely outweighs the value of its designation from the standpoint of minimizing terrorist finance threats. Iranians are already suffering in the face of shortages of medicine, an area of trade in which Parsian was highly active.

We already knew that the Trump administration’s Iran policy was cruel and that it was always going to do more harm to the people than to the regime, and these latest developments confirm that. The administration has nothing but contempt for the Iranian people, and they are showing that every day through the reimposition of illegitimate and unnecessary sanctions.