Following the Trump administration's announcement of renewed sanctions against Iran, set to go into effect on Monday, anti-war groups are warning the move tosses aside diplomacy in favor of paving the path towards war.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday, "On November 5th, the United States will reimpose sanctions that were lifted as part of the nuclear deal on Iran's energy, ship building, shipping, and banking sectors." He argued that they will "hit at the core areas of Iran's economy" and "are necessary to spur changes we seek on the part of the regime," while adding that the "administration's efforts to change Iranian behavior are far broader, far deeper."
President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, earlier this year. The European Union, in contrast, has reaffirmed its commitment to the deal.
Vice President Mike Pence, for his part, said, "Iran will be under the most punitive sanctions they have ever faced."
Ordinary Iranians will likely suffer as a result, as the Guardian reported:
Humanitarian supplies are officially exempted from sanctions, but in the past risk-averse foreign banks and companies have avoided all transactions with Iran for fear of being penalized, leading to severe shortages of life-saving medicines and food staples in the years preceding the 2015 agreement.
There's no doubt that the lives of thousands of patients will be at risk," Ahmad Ghavideh, of Iran's hemophilia society told the Guardian by phone from Tehran.
Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, called the sanctions "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." Countering the White House take, he said, "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."
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"Trump, his war cabinet, and regional cheerleaders in [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu and [Saudi Arabia's crown prince] Mohammed bin Salman do not have the Iranian or American people's best interests at heart," he continued.
"Instead," he said, "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."
Saying it is "outrageous" for the Trump-Pence "administration to feign concern for the Iranian people while imposing sanctions," Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, said the move "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," he warned.
The EU rebuked the move, as well. In a joint statement from the EU high representative and foreign ministers of France, Germany, and they U.K., they say they "deeply regret the further re-imposition of sanctions by the U.S." They went on to say that the nuclear deal, "is working" and call it "crucial for the security of Europe, the region, and the entire world."
Trump also on Friday tweeted out a "menacing" poster-like image of himself with the words "Sanctions are coming November 5," apparently riffing on HBO's "Game of Thrones." It was not appreciated by the network or the show's cast.