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Foreign Policy

Iran Mistakenly Attempts to Bully Trump Into Lifting Sanctions

Meanwhile, U.S. readies a new round of sanctions targeting Iranian leadership.

Political Editors · Nov. 8, 2019

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced this week that Iran will double its uranium-enrichment program in violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — a.k.a. the Iran nuclear deal. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from JCPOA, which was cobbled together by the Obama administration and also signed by China, Russia, and the European Union in 2015. In doing so, Trump called it a terrible deal that ultimately did nothing to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Trump then leveled sanctions against the rogue nation and encouraged EU countries to follow suit. Iran, to no one’s surprise, had been in violation of the agreement all along.

Rouhani’s threat is clearly aimed at getting the EU to pressure the U.S. into lifting the sanctions that are currently crippling his nation’s economy. As The Wall Street Journal observes, “The Iranian strategy has been to escalate its violations of the deal step by step, hoping to intimidate Mr. Trump and divide the U.S. from Europe.”

But with Iran now in open defiance of the deal, leaders in Germany, France, and the UK will be hard pressed not to side with the U.S. In fact, following Iran’s Sept. 14 attack on Saudi oil fields, European leaders called on Iran to “accept negotiation on a long-term framework for its nuclear programme as well as on issues related to regional security, including its missiles programme and other means of delivery.”

Trump wants any new deal “to limit Iran’s ballistic missile development, allow unlimited inspections of suspect nuclear sites, and remove the sunset clauses that allow restrictions on Iran to expire.” (Barack Obama’s biggest mistake, among many, was agreeing to allow the restrictions against Iran’s nuclear development program to expire.)

Iran’s saber-rattling smacks of desperation, and it’s a clear indication that Trump’s efforts to pressure the regime are working — even as the U.S. plans to introduce a fresh round of sanctions against advisors to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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