The U.S. House last week, in a get-tough move in step with Trump’s campaign rhetoric, approved the Iran Sanctions Act, or ISA, for another 10 years.
The law, first adopted in 1996, imposed harsh sanctions on Iran’s energy industry to punish the Islamic state for trying to develop its own nuclear weapons. It’s due to expire this year.
The House also passed a bill that would block the sale of Boeing and Airbus commercial jets.
Under the nuclear accord negotiated by the Obama administration, the U.S. has eased a number of sanctions, which had caused severe strain on Iran’s economy.
Obama has already indicated he would veto both measures if they reach his desk before he leaves office.
But Trump, at least judging by his tough talk, would be more inclined to sign the measures, assuming the Senate approves them.
Iran is already ramping up the rhetoric in the event that happens.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said today (Nov. 23), that Tehran would retaliate if the sanctions are approved. He called it a violation of the nuclear accord.
The nuclear agreement includes most Western nations. Russia, however, is not a signatory and has been positioning itself lately as an ally of the Khamenei regime. That creates a double dilemma for Trump.
While the President-elect has talked tough about Iran, he’s been overly conciliatory to Russian President Vladimir Putin. So, how far he’s willing to go to take on a Russian client state remains to be seen.
“The current U.S. government has breached the nuclear deal in many occasions,” Khamenei told members of the Revolutionary Guards according to an account on its Web site.
“The latest is extension of sanctions for 10 years, that if it happens, would surely be against JCPOA, and the Islamic Republic would definitely react to it,” he adde.
He didn’t say what steps Iran might take, but ramping up its nuclear weapons program seems like an obvious move.
During the campaign, Trump was belligerent about taking military action against Iran over an incident earlier this year. A U.S. Navy boat with about a dozen soldiers was seized by Iran after it drifted into territorial waters.
The sailors were photographed kneeling with their hands on their heads in surrender, but were not mistreated and were released quickly.
Trump said he would even order U.S. ships to fire on Iranians over rude hand gestures.
But who knows where he stands now. He’s already walked back a number of campaign promises. If he fails to do so on this one, he’s first act in office may make the world a more dangerous place.