November 5, 2018

Iran Sanctions Reinstated

“The Trump administration on Friday restored U.S. sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, but carved out exemptions for eight countries that can still import oil from the Islamic Republic without penalty... The sanctions take effect Monday and cover Iran’s shipping, financial and energy sectors.”

AP News

The waivers for oil sales are expected to include China, India, South Korea, Turkey, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, and Japan. In addition, the SWIFT financial system, a private cooperative based in Brussels that’s used to transfer money between banks, will be asked to remove certain Iranian banks from its network and allow others to only process humanitarian transactions.

Reuters, US State Department

The EU issued a statement that they “deeply regret the further re-imposition of sanctions by the United States.”

European Union

See past issues

From the Left

The left is skeptical the sanctions will be effective in bringing Iran to the table, and worries they will only hurt ordinary Iranian citizens.

“Even with the sanctions fully in place on Monday, it is far from clear that Iran will move to renegotiate the deal with the United States." According to the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, “there is nothing about the history of sanctions that suggests they can coerce any country into doing something big and dramatic. And this is a government that is unlikely to want to be seen as being coerced. That goes against the DNA of the Iranian revolution."

New York Times

“Almost four decades of sanctions on Tehran have failed to fundamentally alter Iranian behavior... If our goal is to free Iran from the mullahs’ tyranny, an entirely new approach is needed... recent history shows that building commercial ties with entrepreneurs in environments with governments hostile to the United States is the best way to win local hearts and minds... It’s time to apply this experience to Iran."

Washington Post

Many note that “if European countries actively evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, it would exacerbate already-strained relations between the United States and Europe in bodies such as NATO. The success of initiatives [to avoid sanctions] could also encourage European countries to work more closely with Russia and China to find ways of buffering themselves from U.S. economic coercion in the future... All eyes will be on Europe to see how the new sanctions play out."

Washington Post

“One of the promises of globalization was that it would promote peace and stability by creating international economic networks that make countries more dependent on one another. Instead, America has weaponized this interdependence, twisting Swift and the dollar clearing system to strangle its adversaries. Other powers could do the same, or even undermine the United States by building alternative global networks...

"European politicians have long looked with envy at the power of the United States dollar. They now have an opening to position the euro as a viable competitor.”

New York Times

Finally, many posit that “these sanctions harshly punish key sectors of the Iranian economy, including energy and shipping, and thus could inflict serious hardship [on] a broad swath of Iranian citizens (not just the leadership)... If previewing a policy change that could affect millions of people with a gleeful, braggy pop culture reference feels a bit callous to you, you’re not alone.”


The purpose of sanctions is not to make the target country’s population suffer—it’s to change a government’s behavior. In this case, however, the former outcome seems a lot more likely."


From the Right

The right generally supports the sanctions, but some believe they do not go far enough.

The right generally supports the sanctions, but some believe they do not go far enough.

“The sanctions facing Iran are warranted, given its position as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Iran continues to incite violence against the United States, Israel, and other countries while repressing its own citizens... The deal arranged by the previous administration removed sanctions against Iran without offering any long-lasting solutions to the problems caused by this rogue nation."

National Review

Many note that “the Trump administration appears on track to attain the president’s dual policy goals of punishing Tehran with sanctions while also keeping oil prices in check... sanctions experts and oil market practitioners don't expect the waivers to be lenient enough to save Iran's economy, which is highly dependent on oil exports."

Washington Examiner

According to US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, “The new sanctions will hit Iran’s energy sector hard. But thanks to anticipatory actions taken by the world’s leading producers, including the U.S., to make up the difference, there should be minimal effect on global energy markets... major oil suppliers such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iraq have increased production. So has the U.S., which became the world’s No. 1 oil producer in August."

Wall Street Journal

“Even with the waivers, the expectation of sanctions has already taken 1.1 million barrels of Iranian oil a day off the market. That’s a lot of lost income for the Iranian economy... [At the same time] the Administration will allow Swift to process transactions for humanitarian purposes like trade in medicine and food... This will help make the case that sanctions are targeting the regime, not the Iranian people, and it may deter Europe from seeking an alternative to Swift."

Wall Street Journal

Those advocating for more severe sanctions argue that the exemptions “would allow Iran to keep its oil sector’s infrastructure alive and well. The policy also ignores the fact that money is fungible. If Iran is using oil revenue to fund certain humanitarian spending that it has to provide to stabilize the home front or to purchase other goods, then it frees up money to spend on terrorism... [Trump is] throwing a life raft to an enemy regime that is currently experiencing economic turmoil and constant protests."

Washington Examiner

Iran should be cut off from the SWIFT banking system. “Access to global economic services is an earned reward, and no state that actively supports terrorism and foreign insurgencies ought to have it... A financially crippled Iran would find it much harder to fund subversive proxies and wreak havoc across the region. Keeping Iranian banks connected to SWIFT, meanwhile, would make it that much easier for the regime to outlast the U.S. pressure campaign."

The Weekly Standard

Get troll-free political news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.