The Trump administration began reapplying economic sanctions against Iran Monday, the latest consequence of President Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal.
Trump withdrew the U.S. as a signatory of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May, and the new round of crippling sanctions, the first of two rounds, is designed to deter Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons and grant more liberties to its people.
“There’s the difference between the Obama administration and the Trump administration. The Obama administration was trying to placate. The Trump administration is trying to actually change Iranian behavior,” said retired U.S. Navy Captain Chuck Nash, who is also a Fox News military analyst.
This first tranche of sanctions forbids the importing of Iranian carpets and pistachios, and also voids licenses that allows Iran to buy American and European-made aircraft. Another round of sanctions targeting oil and banks is set to take effect Nov. 4.
European leaders are furious with Trump for bringing the sanctions back, but Nash says they have little choice but to go along.
“They were looking to sell a tremendous amount of goods to Iran. Those deals, now that the United States has pulled out, the administration has basically said, ‘Would you like to do business with the United States or would you like to do business with Tehran? Pick one,'” said Nash.
And Nash says the Europeans could not circumvent the sanctions even if they wanted to.
“Look at aircraft for example. There is so much United States technology in aircraft that there isn’t an aircraft manufacturer in the western world who can export to Tehran if the United States pulls the licenses for its technology. It’s embedded in those platforms,” said Nash.
Nash says the sanctions are also meant to make life uncomfortable for another group inside Iran.
“That impacts the bazaaris, which is the mercantile class inside of Iran,” said Nash. “They are the big supporters of the theocratic regime.”
Nash says the bazaaris were key allies of Ayatollah Khomeini during the Islamic Revolution of 1978-1979. But he says if the bazaaris feel the heat, the mullahs will also be sweating.
“When they start shifting because they’re under pressure, if things really start to happen, you’ll get the mullahs’ attention,” said Nash, who notes the Iranian economy is already hurting badly.
“In the last year alone, their currency, the rial, has lost 80 percent of its value. Things have been going south in Iran for years,” said Nash.
He says the mullahs are sure to blame the renewed sanctions for the economic misery in Iran, but Nash doesn’t think the people will believe them.
“The mullahs are trying to tell the people, ‘No, no, no. It’s not our gross mismanagement. It’s not our spending money on militarization instead of working on infrastructure and other things in the economy. No, no, no. It’s the Americans pulling out of the deal.’ And the people aren’t buying it,” said Nash.
Nash says the Iranian leadership has funneled valuable resources into the Revolutionary Guard Corps, which pledges allegiance not to the government but to the Islamic Revolution, similar to how the Gestapo pledged fidelity to the SS instead of the nation. That, in addition to the weak economy, is sparking large protests against the regime.
Nash says Iranian leaders may soon have to make a very tough decision.
“The mullahs are probably going to be able to keep the lid on this but for how much longer? And that’s the equation they have to balance. ‘Can we really let the United States move on to the Nov. 4 exercise of sanctions, which would be the second tranche, where they then put sanctions against our banking industry and our energy sector?’
“When that happens, that could spell doom for the mullahs inside of Tehran,” said Nash.