One day after President Trump scrapped US involvement in the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, the White House says new sanctions against Iran’s civilian nuclear program will be coming very soon.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee-Sanders promised “enormous sanctions on them,” saying that the intention is all former sanctions are to be back in place, and that the administration will add new ones on top of that as soon as next week.
That’s the plan, at least. In reality, the pre-deal sanctions were heavily negotiated internationally, and there is no sign that anyone else will be going along with the US push this time. Indeed, there is every reason to believe the European Union will block US sanctions from being enforced, and may threaten retaliatory sanctions against the US in the process.
That’s exactly what the EU did in 1996, when the US threatened to punish foreign companies that do business with Cuba. The US ultimately backed down. Since European companies are facing much bigger economic opportunities in Iran than they ever did in Cuba, there will be a lot of pressure for them to do the same here.
The US can stop its own businesses from dealing with Iran, but this is of little consequence in most cases. Even when the US was obliged to ease sanctions on Iran, they largely never did, and American companies were still scared away from dealing with them.
The “teeth” of the US sanctions last time were their ability to apply to the whole world. Yet the circumstances, Iran still in a nuclear agreement with everyone else and the US the only one disavowing it, mean most have little reason to go along with it.