IranSource | Understanding and Analyzing a Multifaceted Iran

US President Donald J. Trump’s May 8 announcement that he would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal was broadly consistent with what many observers expected from the administration. However, because the sanctions component proved tougher than most predicted, the full scope of economic and political ramifications remains unknown.

While the United States gears up for the reimposition of broad secondary and narrower primary US sanctions on Iran for its nuclear activity, there will be a wind-down period for ceasing business, allowing for at least some transition time.  

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Three years ago, Iranians celebrated in the streets of Tehran after a deal was struck between their government and the P5+1 countries to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Three years later, there were once again celebrations in Iran after US President Donald J. Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing from the nuclear deal—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This time hardliners in parliament set fire to a photo of an American flag and chanted, “We burned America! We burned the JCPOA!”

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President Trump’s decision today to leave the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) was the most significant foreign policy decision yet for this administration.

It is no accident that Trump announced it even as he dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. These two engagements will do much to define the Trump administration’s policy toward nuclear proliferators and determine whether Trump’s disruptive approach can produce real results.        

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On April 29, 2018, Israel carried out airstrikes against a number of Iranian positions in Syria, including a weapons storage site that housed a large cache of Iranian surface-to-surface missiles. This is only the latest strike in Israel’s increased attacks against Iran in Syria in 2018. Previously, Israel struck the T4 (Tiyas) airbase on April 9, 2018 in a strike that served a dual purpose: to retaliate against the base from where an armed Iranian drone shot down over Israeli airspace in February was launched, and to produce a crippling strike against Iran’s UAV capabilities in Syria. Both sides have exchanged a war of threats in recent weeks, and many are wondering how, and more significantly, when Iran will respond. Many analysts are concerned that a direct Iranian attack on Israel will spark a regional war.

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US President Donald J. Trump on May 8 withdrew the United States from the multilateral nuclear agreement with Iran.

The deal—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)— was struck in 2015 by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, Germany, and Iran.

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US President Donald J. Trump on May 8 pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal saying the agreement did not satisfactorily address the Islamic Republic’s ability to build a nuclear bomb or limit its “malign activity.” He also signed a memorandum to reimpose sanctions on Iran.

Trump’s decision will likely strain Washington’s ties with its European allies who had urged him to remain in the deal.

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Very little is likely to actually happen immediately on May 8 if US President Donald J. Trump does not renew sanctions waivers for Iran. 

Indeed, there is only one waiver scheduled for renewal by a May 12 deadline. That provision is Section 1245 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). 

Section 1245 had a much larger impact on Iran than most other statutory provisions levied by the United States between 2010 and 2016. It was ostensibly a banking sanction, requiring the president to prohibit the opening of correspondent or payable-through accounts by a foreign financial institution (FFI) the president determined to have knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant financial transaction with the Central Bank of Iran or another designated Iranian financial institution—or to impose strict conditions on the maintenance of such accounts.

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US President Donald J. Trump is expected to announce his decision on May 8 on whether to continue to waive sanctions on Iran or pull the United States out of a multilateral nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic.

Here’s a quick look at the history of sanctions on Iran.

Check out the timeline at the New Atlanticist.
US President Donald J. Trump is expected to reveal his decision on May 8 as to whether he will extend key sanctions waivers on Iran. A failure to do so would effectively take the United States out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the Iran nuclear deal—which it signed with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, and Iran in 2015. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned on May 6 that if the United States were to leave the deal it would face “regret of historic proportions.” The United Kingdom, France, and Germany have publicly urged Trump not to abandon the JCPOA. 

Here’s where the signatories stand on the JCPOA.

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European leaders have vowed to try to salvage the Iran nuclear deal if US President Donald J. Trump carries out his threat to withdraw later this week. But unlike the Paris climate accord and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) would have great difficulty surviving without US participation.

The United States’ European and Asian allies would strenuously complain and seek ways to protect oil imports and other trade and investment with Iran if Trump refuses to renew sanctions waivers by May 12. But many companies would be unlikely to risk the hefty fines that violating US sanctions could entail. Already, major multinational firms are putting Iran plans on hold.

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