On August 16th the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo announced his intention to go forth with the creation of the Iran Action Group. The announcement follows President Trump’s decision this past May to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal and comes paired with strong economic sanctions against Iran and its trade partners. Pompeo stated that the group will be “directing, reviewing, and coordinating all aspects of the State Department’s Iran related activity” and will report directly to him. By his side, Pompeo has enlisted Brian Hook, formerly the Policy Planning Chief of the Trump administration, as the Director of the group. With Hook’s guidance, the group hopes to be a catalyst in changing Iranian policies going forward.
Earlier this month, on August 6th, President Trump released a statement following economic sanctions set forth against Iran, stating that “all nations [should] take such steps to make clear that the Iranian regime faces a choice: either change its threatening, destabilizing behavior and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation.” The new director of the Iran Action Group, Brian Hook seems to share the same belief as the President, according to the Washington Post, stating that he would keep the door open for talks with Iran, but made clear that the U.S. efforts to isolate Iran economically and diplomatically will not come to an end until its leadership changes policies.
Time will only tell whether the Iran Action Group will bring change in Iranian policies, however. Many have questioned if its tactics will bring forth problems for regular Iranian citizens. The Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran shares this worry, according to the New York Times, saying that the sanctions may endanger ordinary Iranians. Of course, international policy tends to be a balancing act and the question now remains how much pressure will the Iran Action Group put on the Iranian government and if it will produce the result that the Trump administration hopes it will bring: peace. Like President Trump recently stated in a tweet on August 7th, “I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”
The push to create a group with a specialized focus only on Iran came from President Trump’s decision back in May to pull the United States out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, a deal which President Obama signed in 2015. Many other nations, such as Britain, France, and Germany, also signed the treaty in hopes that the agreement would create a greater assurance of their national security. Despite many of these nations continuing to hold the same belief they had when they signed the deal, many European companies are changing their trade policies and even cutting off trade with Iran completely. For example, according to Daimler, the German maker of Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks, “[they] have suspended [their] activities with Iran, which were anyway very limited, until further notice according to applicable sanctions.” These sanctions, according to the New York Times, “ban any transactions with Iran involving United States dollar bank notes, gold, precious metals, aluminum, steel, commercial passenger aircraft and coal, and they end imports into the United States of Iranian carpets and foodstuffs.”
Understandably, many are concerned that the immense pressure that the Iran Action Group plans to put forth on Iran could create more damage to the Iranian economic system and on regular Iranian citizens’ everyday lives, rather than pushing the Iranian government to bring forth policy changes in favor of national security and peace. However, it still remains that the Iran Action Group may be able to apply just enough pressure to allow for policy change to ensue.
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