Statements on the Reimposition of Sanctions on Iran in Violation of the Nuclear Deal

November 2018

Below is a list of organizational statements on the reimposition of Iranian nuclear-related sanctions on November 5, 2018.

Foreign Policy for America

Trump Administration Pursues Dangerous Iran Policy, Risking Escalation, at the Expense of European Allies

Despite the strongest protests from our closest allies and other signatories to the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), the Trump administration has abrogated American commitments and reimposed all nuclear-related sanctions - including oil sanctions – despite Iran’s commitment to the agreement. This is another misguided step as part of a White House-backed “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran that undermines global non-proliferation efforts because it encourages Iran to restart its nuclear program and risks taking America back to war in the region.   

These sanctions punish Europe and other allies, and will do little to encourage Iran to cease its malign behavior. When America threatens the use of unilateral sanctions against friendly nations in order to force them into line with a bad policy, we weaken our future financial power, political influence and global leadership.

Our Iran policy has forced the United States to stand alone and we compromise our national security in pursuing it.

Diplomacy Works

President Trump’s Sanctions on Iran are Dangerous and Costly

The United States is set to reimpose a new round of nuclear-related sanctions on Iran next week as part of a highly flawed “maximum pressure campaign” that began with withdrawing from the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal). Despite the Administration’s claims, this will not force Iran to change the policies we care about.  In fact, the sanctions will create real and unnecessary costs for the American people, our allies, and partners. By abandoning our commitments under the deal, we continue to isolate ourselves, driving a deeper wedge between America and the global community, most importantly our vital European allies. And through the threat of unilateral sanctions, we have seen an increase in global oil prices and our closest allies are seeking alternative economic mechanisms that could put the U.S.-centric global financial system, from which we benefit greatly, at risk.

“The Trump Administration has laid out unachievable high objectives for changes in Iran and its policies, but it is relying on economic pressure that will necessarily be less comprehensive than what President Obama achieved by working with a broad international coalition that included Iran’s most important trading partners.  The outcome will at best be U.S. isolation and failure and at worst conflict with Iran,” said Jarrett Blanc, former deputy lead coordinator and State Department coordinator for Iran nuclear implementation at the U.S. Department of State.

President Trump says that he is helping Americans and keeping the nation safe, but his actions tell a different story. Violating the Iran nuclear agreement and unilaterally reimplementing these sanctions is a destabilizing action that puts America back on a path to war another in the region. These policies inflame tensions that will likely encourage Iranian malign behaviors to continue –including possibly restarting their nuclear weapons program – that could pull the United States into conflict.

Truman National Security Project

In response to the upcoming sanctions on Iranian oil, Truman Project Interim Executive Director Bishop Garrison issued the following statement

“President Trump withdrew from the P5+1 nuclear agreement with Iran against the advice of his national security advisors and despite the fact it has worked and continues to work in preventing Tehran’s development of a nuclear weapon. Now, the Trump Administration will re-impose sanctions on Iranian oil, opening the door to a potential sharp increase in global oil prices, closure of the Strait of Hormuz, and economic friendly fire on our allies and partners who are striving to keep Tehran in the nuclear deal—and therefore keep its nuclear program under the limits and inspections regime.”

“As we prepare to face the consequences brought about by this recklessness, the United States must not be drawn into another war in the Middle East, whether by way of President Trump’s shortsightedness, his advisors’ longstanding aggression towards Iran, our Gulf partners’ desire to change the regional balance of power, or even foolhardy provocations from Tehran itself.”

Arms Control Association

Statement from Kelsey Davenport, Director for Nonproliferation Policy

Iran’s commitment to continue implementing the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), faces another test Nov. 5, when the Trump administration’s biting sanctions on Iran’s oil sector come back into effect.

This move further compounds President Trump's reckless and irresponsible decision in May to violate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, despite acknowledging Iran’s compliance with the accord, and reimpose sanctions. It is another serious blow to the Trump administration’s already low credibility on nuclear nonproliferation matters.

Although the new oil sanctions are unlikely to change Iran’s commitment to the JCPOA in the short-term, the long-term viability of the deal remains at risk.

The Trump administration has falsely claimed that the JCPOA has been a failure because it did not “fix” Iran’s activities in policy areas beyond the scope of the nuclear deal, such as Tehran’s support for non-state actors.

In reality, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has significantly reduced Iran’s capability to produce bomb-grade nuclear material, opened it up to a more robust international inspections regime, and blocked its major pathways to nuclear weapons for years to come. The International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly confirmed that Tehran is complying with the restrictions set by the JCPOA.

Worse yet, the Trump administration turned down earlier proposals from our European partners on addressing Iran’s malign activities in other areas, and the Trump administration’s overreliance on sanctions and its “maximum pressure” policy is not a viable strategy for replacing the JCPOA. The Trump administration’s approach is a recipe for conflict and increased proliferation risks in the Middle East.

We encourage the other parties to the JCPOA to continue to meet their obligations and preserve legitimate trade with Iran. The international community must fulfill UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the nuclear deal and called upon all states to support it, until such time as the United States comes back into compliance with the agreement and new talks can begin on win-win approaches to extend and build upon key elements of the JCPOA.

National Security Action

Reimposing Sanctions on Iranian Oil Will Leave Americans to Pay the Price

President Trump next week will re-impose oil sanctions on Iran, doubling down on his reckless and dangerous decision to withdraw from the Iran deal. Trump believes that new sanctions will provide leverage to negotiate a “better deal.” What he fails to understand is that this strategy has alienated our allies and partners--to the point that they are circumventing our sanctions, depriving these unilateral measures of the very multilateral and coordinated bite that compelled Iran to negotiate the nuclear deal in the first place. While too weak to compel Iran, these sanctions are strong enough to risk an even larger increase in oil prices--which have spiked since Trump's determination to abandon the deal came into focus--leaving Americans to foot the bill for the President’s recklessness.

All told, this move underscores what we have known: the administration has no strategy, short of war, to verifiably prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon--precisely what the nuclear deal had already accomplished.

Peace Action

Trump’s Iran Sanctions Are Beating a Path to War

Ahead of the Trump administration’s reimposition of oil, banking, and shipping sanctions against Iran scheduled for November 5th, Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs at Peace Action, released the following statement:

“The reimposition of these sanctions should be seen for what it is: the latest step in a calculated campaign by this White House to provoke war with Iran. From putting Iran ‘on notice’ at the start of 2017, to violating and withdrawing from the successful, multilateral Iran nuclear agreement despite Iran’s verifiable compliance and strong objections from our allies, to these latest actions to strangle Iran’s economy, this administration is beating a path to war. As tragic and devastating as the Iraq War was, war with Iran would be far more catastrophic to the region and to global stability.

“For the administration to feign concern for the Iranian people while imposing sanctions that will devastate the financial wellbeing of the Iranian people is outrageous. As for his supposed motivation of bringing Iran back to the negotiating table, if President Trump really wanted to negotiate with Iran, he wouldn’t have brought long-time advocates of regime change in Iran like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo into his inner circle. He wouldn’t have threatened Iran in all caps on Twitter with ‘consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.’ In case the cheerleaders for regime change don’t remember, we already helped orchestrate regime change in Iran in 1953, and the consequences of that decision haunt us to this day.

“The Trump administration should not give Saudi Arabia a pass on war crimes in Yemen and the murder of a reporter to allow Saudi oil to flow, while restricting oil needed by our allies from Iran when Tehran upheld its obligations under the successful Iran agreement.

“On Election Day, many Americans will be choosing between supporters of Trump’s regime-change tactics in Congress and their challengers. That’s why Peace Action is working for dozens of candidates who understand that diplomacy and the Iran agreement make Americans safer. We need a Congress that puts America’s interests in diplomacy and nonproliferation over the interests of political operatives like Bolton who are still enamoured with the obscene pursuit of forcibly overthrowing governments we don’t happen to agree with on everything.”

Americans for Peace Now

Trump’s New Iran Sanctions Isolate US and Increase Risk of War

Americans for Peace Now (APN) opposes the Trump administration’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran, a step that jeopardizes both American and Israeli security and is likely to embolden Iran’s hardliners.  

Following President Trump’s decision in May to place the United States in violation of the Iran nuclear deal, his administration today reimposed sanctions intended to cripple Iran’s economy.

Iran’s leaders will not agree to far-ranging concessions that go beyond the Iran nuclear deal, given a US administration which has shown it cannot be trusted to abide by international agreements. Attempting to strangle the Iranian economy through sanctions on its oil industry will do nothing to change that.

On the security front, the reimposition of sanctions lifted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) makes it more likely that Iran will halt its compliance with the nuclear deal and pursue development of nuclear weapons. And in the absence of diplomacy with Iran, the likelihood of war increases. The former head of Israel’s Mossad Efraim Halevy recently warned that the prospect of “confronting Iran militarily is becoming a viable option with disastrous consequences.” He added, “You know how to begin a war but never know how to an end a war.”

Diplomatically, reimposed sanctions are one more instance of Trump’s policy of America First translating into America Alone. The US is in material breach of the JCPOA, while all other parties to it, including our European allies, are attempting to keep the agreement alive.

Ultimately, reimposition of the most impactful sanctions on Iran will not hurt the hardliners in Iran’s government. On the contrary, Trump’s decision to violate the JCPOA has validated their opposition to the nuclear deal while making Iranian moderates who pushed for it and trusted American commitments appear foolish. The new sanctions may succeed in triggering a humanitarian crisis in Iran, fostering an environment in which extremism is more likely to grow than moderation.

This action by President Trump may energize his base on the eve of tomorrow’s elections, but it will not enhance the security of Americans.

National Iranian American Council

Experts on the Reimposition of Sanctions on Iran in Violation of the Nuclear Deal

At midnight on Monday, President Trump’s snapback of nuclear-related sanctions on Iran will be finalized. While a portion of the sanctions previously waived under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) came back into force on August 7, the November 5 tranche of Iran sanctions includes many of the most impactful sanctions to be levied on Iran, including those targeting Iran’s energy and financial sectors.

The decision by the United States to violate the Iran nuclear deal and reinstate sanctions has already caused economic pain for Iran’s population of 80 million. However, Iran has ruled out negotiations with the Trump administration for the foreseeable future.

Jamal Abdi, President of the National Iranian American Council, a leading voice for the Iranian-American community and expert on US-Iranian relations, issued the following statement reacting to the implementation of snapback sanctions against Iran:  

“These sanctions are a slap in the face to the Iranian people who have been squeezed between the repression of their government and the pressure of international sanctions for decades. Impoverishing ordinary Iranians will not hurt the regime or achieve any of America’s security interests, but it will set back the Iranian people’s aspirations for years to come.

“The Obama administration left a playbook for how to secure concessions from Iran through patient, multilateral diplomacy. Unfortunately, Trump and his team have ripped the diplomatic playbook to shreds, opting for policies that echo the drumbeat for war that led up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

“Trump, his war cabinet and regional cheerleaders in Benjamin Netanyahu and Mohammed bin Salman do not have the Iranian or American people’s best interests at heart. Instead, they are blowing up an agreement that supports U.S. interests and the aspirations of the Iranian people while planting the seeds for a disastrous war. The U.S. must reverse course before irreparable harm is done to the Iranian people, regional security and America’s international standing.”

In a memo to U.S. lawmakers, the National Iranian American Council warns that the snapback of sanctions on Iran has precipitated a crisis in slow motion, threatening a range of U.S. national interests and tying America closer to the destabilizing campaigns of Saudi Arabia. In the memo, NIAC warns that the blowback from sanctions reimposition will:

Increase the Risks of an Iranian Nuclear Weapon

  • Trump’s snapback of nuclear-related sanctions has eviscerated Iran’s benefit for complying with the JCPOA, increasing the risk of Iran halting its compliance with the accord and moving closer to a nuclear weapon.

  • The re-designation of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) threatens to disrupt international work to reduce proliferation risks at the Arak heavy water reactor and deeply buried Fordow facility.

Raise the Risk of War

  • Trump’s advisors John Bolton and Mike Pompeo have pushed for war with Iran as an alternative to negotiations, as have Iran’s regional rivals who have increased sway with the Trump administration.

  • A spark for a military confrontation could come from several directions in the absence of diplomacy with Iran – whether over Iran’s nuclear program, regional tensions or a naval confrontation in the Persian Gulf.

Isolate the United States

  • The U.S. is in material breach of the UN Security Council-endorsed JCPOA, which all other parties to the accord – including our allies in Britain, France and the European Union (EU) – are seeking to keep alive.

  • JCPOA participants and Iran are seeking to establish independent payment channels, with ramifications that could undercut U.S. dominance of the global financial system and the power of U.S. secondary sanctions far into the future.

Raise Oil Prices

  • President Trump has repeatedly called on Saudi Arabia and Russia to pump more oil to offset Iranian oil that has been taken off the market, reducing spare capacity that could be key to respond to any emergency.

  • Iranian oil cannot be offset forever, and a crisis risks soaring oil prices and substantial harm for American consumers.

Increase U.S. reliance on Saudi Arabia

  • At a time when Saudi Arabia appears to be an increasingly unsavory partner for the U.S. after the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Trump administration has pigeonholed itself into an approach to the Middle East that relies on Saudi Arabia.

  • Overlooking Saudi Arabia’s crimes to pressure Iran bears eerie resemblance to America’s early backing of Saddam Hussein throughout the Iran-Iraq war. A more balanced approach to the region is needed.

Undercut Moderate Forces in Iran

  • Trump’s Iran sanctions are likely to crush the Iranian middle class and private sector, unleashing economic desperation in the country and limiting prospects for internal moderation.

  • Iran’s hardliners have been vindicated by Trump’s decision to violate the JCPOA and snap back sanctions, and will benefit from sanctions that crush forces for moderation while leaving them relatively unscathed.

Trigger a Humanitarian Crisis in Iran

  • Sanctions on Iran under the Obama administration triggered shortages of key life-saving medicines and contributed to the impoverishment of ordinary Iranians by depressing the economy and increasing the cost of basic goods. Similar effects are already being felt from Trump’s snapback.

  • The Trump administration has already targeted private Iranian financial institutions that facilitated humanitarian transactions, raising the risk of further humanitarian crises in the months ahead and more damage to American credibility.

J Street

With Latest Violation of Nuclear Agreement, Trump Betrays US Allies and Hands Victory to Iranian Hardliners

President Trump’s reimposition of broad sanctions on those doing business with Iran puts the US in further violation of the JCPOA nuclear agreement, which has successfully blocked all Iranian paths to a nuclear weapon. This action hands an astonishing victory to Iranian hardliners seeking to harm the US and our allies, and could help lead our country down the path to another destructive war of choice in the Middle East.

Iran’s hardliners have long worked to undermine diplomacy-oriented domestic political rivals, sew regional instability and diminish US influence on the world stage. Now, by unilaterally abrogating the anti-nuclear pact, an American president has done all three. Far from being cowed into capitulation by Trump’s bid to impose “maximum pressure,” Iran’s hardliners will continue to be bolstered by the breakdown it causes in the multilateral international coalition that, under the JCPOA, has stood resolute against a nuclear-armed Iran.

As the Iranian regime’s worst actors reap benefits from this move, many others will suffer. The people of Iran, particularly the young and ill, will face an even greater shortage of jobs and medicine. US allies forced to choose between their own obligations under the agreement and their access to the American market will lose economic ground and influence to Russia and China. Israel and all those threatened by Iranian forces and terrorist proxies throughout the region will face the specter of an emboldened Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps given a freer hand by the regime’s top leadership.

Should Trump’s actions lead to dissolution of the agreement, his “war cabinet” can be expected to push towards armed conflict and “regime change.” If the president does push us into war, its devastating cost will be paid by families from Tehran to Tel Aviv to Tacoma.

The majority of Americans who oppose the president’s reckless abandonment of the agreement must urge Congress to prevent this slide into conflict. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in Congress that would bar funding for an unauthorized war against Iran. In just a few days, voters will have the opportunity to elect a new, pro-diplomacy Congress that can serve as a bulwark against Donald Trump’s dangerous and destructive policies in the Middle East.

International Crisis Group

The Illogic of the U.S. Sanctions Snapback on Iran

What’s new? A 40-year analysis of Iran’s economic performance and regional policy reveals little to no correlation between the two, as Tehran has continued to pursue policies it deems central to its national security no matter its degree of economic well-being at home.

Why does it matter? The Trump administration hopes that sanctions will force Iran to curb its regional activities. But data shows that outcome is uncertain as changes in Iran’s wealth have had little impact on the direction or capabilities of its regional policy. Sanctions risk empowering harder-line officials in the Islamic Republic and prompting them to lash out, exacerbating regional tensions.

What should be done? The U.S. optimally should leverage its sanctions to de-escalate regional tensions. That requires acknowledging Iran’s legitimate security concerns as long as Iran acknowledges those of its regional rivals. However unlikely at this time, the U.S., Iran and Gulf Arab states should take steps to build a more stable regional security architecture.

Win Without War

Trump’s Oil Sanctions on Iran Make War More Likely & Will Raise Gas Prices at Home

Win Without War Director Stephen Miles released the following statement ahead of Donald Trump’s decision to re-impose sanctions on Iranian oil:

“Donald Trump is about to take a bad decision and make it worse. Next week the Trump administration will double down on its unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal by reimposing oil sanctions that were lifted as part of the agreement.

“Reimposing these sanctions could very well lead to the collapse of the nuclear deal. Iran would then be free to restart elements of its nuclear program that had been frozen under the agreement — a move that would make war with Iran more, not less, likely.

“To implement this policy, Trump is further dividing the U.S. and Europe, while at the same time turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s gross human rights abuses. Trump is giving Saudi Arabia a free pass for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to ensure that Saudi oil flows in the absence of Iranian crude. At the same time, he is also willing to impose sanctions on our European friends, who want to continue business in Iran to keep the deal alive, as it is currently working to block Iran’s paths to building a nuclear weapon.

“On top of these strategic blunders, reimposing the sanctions will result in higher oil prices, which means Americans will pay more at the gas pump, particularly as we approach the holiday travel season.

“The best course of action is for the United States to re-enter the Iran nuclear deal and re-internationalize a response to some of the challenges Iran presents. Any other course, particularly the one Trump is pursuing, is a recipe for division, economic uncertainty, or even war.”