Today the Trump administration reimposed some sanctions on Iran despite its continuing compliance with the nuclear deal:
The United States on Monday reimposed the first round of Iranian trade sanctions that had been suspended under the 2015 nuclear agreement, distancing itself from every other country that signed the agreement and putting the accord’s future in jeopardy.
Administration officials said the sanctions that have been waived for the past two and a half years will be snapped back officially on Tuesday morning at one minute past midnight.
From that moment on, Iran will be prohibited from using U.S. dollars, the primary currency used for international financial transactions and oil purchases. Trade in metals and sales of Iranian-made cars will be banned. Permits allowing the import of Iranian carpets and food, such as pistachios, will be revoked. So will licenses that have allowed Tehran to buy U.S. and European aircraft and parts — a restriction that comes just days after Iran completed the acquisition of five new commercial planes from Europe.
The U.S. had no good reason to renege on the nuclear deal, and it has no good reason to reimpose sanctions that were created to pressure Iran into making concessions that it has since made. Sanctions are frequently ineffective, but in this case they are also completely unjustified. Reneging on sanctions relief after the sanctioned government complies with U.S. demands is disreputable, and it tells other sanctioned governments that they should think twice before making any agreements to obtain sanctions relief. That will make an already weak and overused tool even less effective than it is now, and it will make it even harder to negotiate with sanctioned regimes.
The only value that sanctions have in U.S. foreign policy is if they can be used to advance American interests at an acceptably low cost. In the case of these sanctions on Iran, there is no way that they can do that. Iran cannot repeat its nuclear program concessions to get out from under these sanctions. It cannot be more in compliance with the nuclear deal when it is already fully compliant. Sanctioning Iran over an issue that has already been resolved to the satisfaction of all other parties is gratuitous, cruel, and irrational. When the administration’s conditions for sanctions relief amount to Iran’s surrender, that is a recipe for impasse and conflict. It needs to be remembered that this is happening only because the president wanted to undo an agreement negotiated in good faith that was doing everything it was supposed to do, and in doing so he has put the U.S. and Iran on a collision course that could have easily been avoided.