When President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal in May, he also said the US would reimpose strict sanctions on Tehran.
Starting at 12:01 am on Tuesday, financial penalties that former President Barack Obama removed from Iran as part of the nuclear agreement snap back into place.
Sanctions will once again target the following areas with “full effect,” senior administration officials told reporters on Monday, meaning these activities will be restricted or prohibited:
- The Iranian government’s ability to purchase or acquire US dollar banknotes
- Trade in gold and precious metals
- The sale or transfer to or from Iran of graphite and metals, such as aluminum and steel
- Unspecified transactions related to the Iranian rial, the country’s currency
In addition to this, administration officials said, tariffs will be placed on Iran’s automotive sector and the country can no longer purchase US passenger aircraft, while the US can no longer import Iranian carpets or certain foods.
That’s not all: On November 4, even more sanctions that Obama lifted will kick back in. Those will hit Iran’s oil exports and energy sector, a key industry for the country; financial institutions working with the Central Bank of Iran; port operators and shipbuilding sectors; and the provisions of insurance and financial messaging services.
The goal of the sanctions, according to the senior administration officials, is to cripple the Iranian economy to the point that the regime must end its support for terrorism and negotiate an end to its nuclear program with the US.
The sanctions are meant to punish the regime. But the Iranian people will feel it the most.
The announcement comes at a particularly tense time.
Hundreds of Iranian citizens have taken to the streets in more than 80 cities — including the capital, Tehran — to protest the country’s struggling economy and the ruling regime. The rial’s value plummeted 80 percent in just one year, partially due to America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
The problem, though, is that the sanctions will undoubtedly hurt the Iranian middle class, and many of the sectors the US has targeted — like the automotive sector — will likely shed jobs. On top of that, Iranians will struggle to purchase important items like food or medicine as their wages drop.
But the Trump administration says its goal is to actually help the Iranian people by forcing the regime to change its ways.
“We hope that the Iranian regime will think seriously about the consequences their behavior is having on their own people,” a senior administration official told reporters. “We do stand with the Iranian people who are longing for a country of economic opportunity, transparency, fairness, and greater liberty.”
The question now is if the Trump administration’s gambit — to see if greater financial costs on the Iranian regime will force it to abandon its nuclear ambitions — will work. In the meantime, it’s the Iranian people who will mostly bear the burden.