Post Arms Embargo Era: Why Would It Be Very Different for Iran?Mahdi PourSafa
Over the past two years following the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA, Iran has phased out some restrictions on the development of its nuclear program, but it has remained committed to the main parts of the agreement in general, including the maintenance of extra-supervisory inspections and the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol.
Meanwhile, Washington's attempt to force Iran to start new negotiations on a new agreement has failed; a failure that, on a larger scale, indicates a stalemate in Trump's policy of putting maximum pressure on Iran.
Over the past two years, all sanctions against Iran have been reimposed; even the oil sanctions relief that were in place during the Obama administration.
During the 2016 election campaign, Trump repeatedly talked about his most important philosophy to apply these pressures. He believed that by joining the nuclear negotiations and the JCPOA, the Obama administration offered Tehran a serious concession, and he also believed that continuing sanctions would cause the Iranian economy to collapse.
Based on this assumption, over the past two years, all sanctions against Iran have been reimposed and even the oil sanctions relief that were in place during the Obama administration were lifted. The US move, which took effect in May 2019, has severely reduced Iran's oil exports. Although America’s pressure caused some economic turmoil in Iran, the county also chose the policy of maximum resistance against the pressures.
In the meantime, various interventions were made to start negotiations, the most famous of which was perhaps the visit of the Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo to Tehran. However, none of these measures could force Iran to accept the oppressive conditions of Americans for negotiation, and even Iran's previous actions to challenge US interests were pursued more seriously. In addition to Iran not surrendering to the US will, America is currently facing another new problem, and that is the end of arms embargo five years after the JCPOA being accepted as a multilateral agreement.
Under the JCPOA all those restrictions would come to an end after 5 years, and now five years have passed.
How did the arms embargo against Iran begin?
Since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, arms embargoes have been an important part of the West’s policy toward Iran. When the US embassy in Tehran fell to Iranian college students (belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line) and mediations to end the hostage crisis failed, the Carter administration imposed a series of sanctions on Iran, including a ban on the sale of weapons by American companies to Iran.
The arms embargo was not lifted even with the signing of the Algiers Accords and the end of sanctions related to the hostage crisis. Since 2003, when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has raised the issue of Iran's nuclear program, Iran’s weapons programs have also been under focus, with US officials accusing Iran of trying to launch nuclear warheads under its missile program.
When Iran's nuclear program was first reported to the UN Security Council and UN Security Council Resolution 1696 was adopted by consensus, measures were taken regarding Iran’s missile program due to the alleged link between its nuclear program and ballistic missile program. In subsequent resolutions, the UN arms embargo against Iran became wider and more complex.
Resolution 1747, issued by consensus against Iran in 2006, banned the export of products related to the missile program, as well as dual-use items listed in the document, and required countries to inspect and prevent the sale, export, or import of these items to and from Iran. In this process, the most severe international sanctions against Iran's weapons program were approved in 2010 by UN Security Council Resolution 1929. Under this resolution, all countries not only refused to sell any heavy weapons to Iran, but also prevented themselves and their citizens from transporting such weapons for Iran. Under the JCPOA all those restrictions would come to an end after 5 years, and now five years have passed.
If countries sell arms to Iran freely, the question arises as to why there is a need to maintain sanctions on oil or drug imports?
Lifting the arms embargo: a rift in the general structure of sanctions
The main concern of the United States in this regard, in addition to the release of all existing restrictions on weapons programs that will lead to the rise of Iran, is that the end of arms embargo will actually seriously make troubles for the general structure of sanctions. In order to fully maintain sanctions against a country, it needs to be made sure that all red lines are maintained against the sanctioned country. When one of the red lines is violated regularly and without any special consequences, there is no excuse to keep the other red lines as well.
Now, if countries like Russia, China, and even Europe sell arms to Iran freely, the question arises as to why there is a need to maintain sanctions on oil or drug imports, and this is one of the main concerns of the United States.This can start with sensitive products in the field of human rights such as food and drug, gradually including other products as well. Maybe that's why America has unofficially announced that it is ready to activate the Swiss payment channel.