As the Trump presidency slides into the sunset, a review of its approach to Iran reveals an unrelenting pursuit of economic sanctions, impelled by a visceral animosity for the Iranian leadership and its people, indeed, for the Iranian revolution itself.
Throughout the election campaign, Trump had criticized the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the formal title of the nuclear agreement that the P5+1 powers had entered into with Iran to curb its weapons programme and ease sanctions. Anxious to reverse every achievement of the former president, Barack Obama, Trump had promised a “better” deal.
A year after entering the White House, Trump formally withdrew the US from the JCPOA in May 2018 and reinstated sanctions on the country. Trump’s idea of a “better” deal envisaged a significant expansion of the issues to be covered by a new agreement – curbing Iran’s support for terrorism and the regional instability caused by its “malign” actions and, specifically, ending its development of ballistic missiles and cutting off ties with Hamas and Hezbollah.
As Iran failed to respond to these demands, the sanctions became more severe: Trump demanded that Iran’s oil exports be reduced to zero, even as the sanctions curbed Iran’s access to global financial institutions. Over the last four years, new sanctions have been imposed on Iran practically every week – targeting its leaders and institutions.
Besides the oil and finance sectors, sanctions have been imposed on the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the Central Bank of Iran, and recently its oil companies, several of its banks, the Iranian Oil Minister and even the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad.