After much hemming and hawing, Donald Trump renewed the sanctions relief program for Iran previously brokered by President Barack Obama. As is often the case for Trump and his administration, reports indicate there was chaos behind the scenes while senior officials pressed for an outcome the president didn’t readily accept. In fact, while multiple government departments were ready to announce the renewal and deliver their talking points to the press, Trump apparently called a time out to reconsider a last-minute reversal before settling on language he found more suitable.
Trump, who previously called the sanctions deal “catastrophic” and “disastrous,” apparently wants to simultaneously punish Iran without setting off the government in Tehran. He currently feels that Iran is “in default of the spirit” of the sanctions relief program, and wants to take a strong rhetorical stance — even if the policy doesn’t change in a meaningful way. As tensions brew in the Gulf states and the dust settles on a recent flurry of arms deals, however, monitoring Iran and how their activities affect the balance of power in the Middle East remains important.
This isn’t the first time Trump has gone back and forth over its handling of Iran. In April, rumors of new sanctions related to the country’s use of ballistic missiles circulated. One month later, new penalties were rolled out. That subject was renewed this week ahead of the nuclear sanctions decision, but confusion about what measures will actually go into effect left Iranian and American officials unsure of how to go forward. “We receive contradictory signals,” said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. “So we don’t know which one to interpret in what way.”
(Via Talking Points Memo)