As of Monday, September 21st, the United States has begun new sanctions against Iran’s defense ministry, according to Today World. These sanctions include nuclear, missile, and conventional arms within Iran, and affect all those involved in the industry. The administration claims the announcement supports the argument that all U.N sanctions against Tehran are now back on. As reported by Reuters, many allies of the United States, as well as Russia and China reject this claim.
These new sanctions target 27 Iranians involved throughout the industry, but Iran reportedly stated that they would have no effect. They claim that the sanctions are a publicity stunt of the United States. In a virtual meeting of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif explained that “The United States has exerted all the pressure it could on Iran. It had hoped that these sanctions will bring our people into their knee. It did not.” Zarif also repeated that Tehran is ready to exchange prisoners with Washington. According to U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the sanctions were put on Iran and Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, arguing that Iran and Venezuela have worked “to flout the U.N. arms embargo” for almost two years.
Sanctions expert at the Center for a New American Security, Elizabeth Rosenberg, explained that “The United States has already significantly targeted Iran, and this new action doesn’t… cause much more significant pain.” If the U.S sanctions aren’t really making any significant change in the state of international affairs, why are they happening? This still isn’t very clear, but the decision to do so will almost certainly have some kind of effect on the local level. In the U.S., such sanctions will likely further alienate Americans from not only Iran but also those that they perceive to be Iranian. There has been a long history of xenophobia in the United States that was only amplified by the events of September 11th, 2001. Many Americans are quick to judge those that they believe look Arab, making the grossly incorrect judgment that any person from the Middle East or of Arab descent must be a terrorist. While this could not be further from the truth, it is unfortunately very possible that these sanctions may serve as validation for those that are looking for reasons to continue to be extremely bigoted and close-minded.
These sanctions were reportedly partially caused by the fact that the expiry of a U.N. arms embargo on Iran is quickly approaching, set to take place on October 18th. This 2015 nuclear deal that Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the U.S signed will be expiring very close to the U.S. election on November 3rd. The United States had withdrawn from the deal in May of 2018, before making the choice to resume almost all of the U.N sanctions on Iran. It is suspected that the United States is attempting to send a message out to states internationally that being involved in the trade of arms with Iran may result in U.S. sanctions.
Much of what will come from these decisions is still unclear. Should Donald Trump not get re-elected come the November elections, there is a chance that much of this may change drastically under a new administration. This aside, it is almost certain that this conflict will result in some kind of tension among peoples internationally. Iranians continue to feel targeted by the U.S. and the many actions it has taken against their state, and many Americans continue to be convinced that anything or anyone that comes out of the Middle East (save for oil) is horrible and lesser-than. If these two countries continue such a harmful dialogue, it is very unlikely that any sort of meaningful resolve that may actually benefit the people of both countries will be found. Until then, we can only hope that leaders will productively talk with a level of respect and diplomacy in hopes of finding some kind of resolution that will keep their states safe and well.
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