Skip to main content

White House faces tough task of tearing down Iran sanctions wall to save nuclear deal

In Trump's final days, the White House introduced a slew of new sanctions aimed at hindering a return to the nuclear deal. Yet since the designations were so blatantly politicized, the risk of undoing them is politically manageable.
abbas araghchi in Vienna

In the fall of 2020, as Trump administration foreign policy officials anticipated their time in office would soon be over, they sought to perpetuate one of their most unsuccessful polices — the maximum pressure campaign against Iran — by erecting what they called a “sanctions wall.” The purpose, which they made no attempt to hide, was to undermine the next administration’s ability to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Right after Trump lost the election, his aides hatched a plan to announce a new set of sanctions on Iran every week until the inauguration of President Joe Biden on Jan. 20, according to Axios.

With negotiations in Vienna now proceeding steadily to address the necessary steps for JCPOA restoration, architects of the sanctions wall again are anticipating defeat. And they are not happy that the ramparts appear to be about to crumble. Leading Republican senators and members of the House of Representatives have penned letters insisting they would work to overturn any “one-sided concessions.” Mark Dubowitz, who in his role as president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies hatched the sanctions wall concept, has released a torrent of tweets, charging on April 9, for example, “Biden offering regime in Iran billions of dollars in terrorism-sanctions relief that will subsidize the IRGC & reward ongoing nuclear deceit.” The IRGC is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which was designated as a terror organization by the Trump administration.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.