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Tough Talk Tough Actions
Trump Slaps Sanctions on Iran

In the five days since Iran launched a ballistic missile as an early test of the Trump administration, decision-makers in Washington have staked out a tough rhetorical line on Iran. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn made a pointed statement that rebuked Tehran for destabilizing the Middle East and cryptically announced that it was being put “on notice.” Press Secretary Sean Spicer provocatively charged Iran with attacking a Saudi vessel off of Yemen. Meanwhile, President Trump has taken to Twitter in a series of messages deriding the Iran nuclear agreement and warning that Iran was “playing with fire.”

Behind all this tough talk, however, what concrete actions is the new administration likely to take? Today’s announcement of new sanctions on Iran offered the first glimpse. Reuters:

The United States on Friday ratcheted up pressure on Iran, putting sanctions on 13 individuals and 12 entities days after the White House put Tehran “on notice” over a ballistic missile test. […]

A senior U.S. administration said Friday’s sanctions were an “initial step” in response to Iran’s “provocative behavior,” suggesting more could follow if Tehran does not curb its ballistic missile program and continues support for Houthi militia in Yemen.

The U.S. moved a Navy destroyer, the USS Cole, close to the Bab al-Mandab Strait off the coast of Yemen to protect waterways.

The U.S. Treasury, which listed the individuals and entities affected on its website, said the sanctions were “fully consistent” with U.S. commitments under the nuclear deal clinched between Tehran and six major world powers in 2015, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

Crucially, the administration is not arguing that Iran’s missile tests have violated the terms of the nuclear deal, nor is it “snapping back” the sanctions that were lifted under the terms of that agreement. Rather, Trump is using new sanctions outside of that framework to ratchet up the pressure on Iran’s non-nuclear aggression. Under Obama, Iran and its proxies made serious gains in the Middle East; Trump is signaling his intent to check those advances while strictly enforcing the nuclear deal. This screws-tightening approach is in line with what Iran hawks in both Israel and the U.S. have been advising Trump to do rather than blowing up the nuclear deal outright.

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  • buermann

    “Under Obama, Iran and its proxies made serious gains in the Middle East”

    What gains?

    • Psalms564

      Are you being sarcastic or genuinely stupid? I honestly can’t tell…

      • Disappeared4x

        I had to read that twice, still not sure why I misunderstood the first speed-read. “During the O admin, Iran…” might have been clearer.

        Must be from considering who is Wile E. Coyote in this Looney Tune version of media-pundit spin.

        I think it is msmmedia is the too-clever Wile E., or the too-organized protestors, or Obama, or all of them.
        Those who believe “The Trump Administration has built a reputation for itself as being unpredictable”
        must believe it is TeamTrump.
        What do you think?
        of course, after reading so much Tom Clancy, I believe China IS hacking my computer if I reply to Dhako.

      • buermann

        The examples that are usually trotted out: W had already gifted them Iraq; their longtime ally in Syria was very nearly defeated, his survival would merely reset the needle; nobody’s yet gained anything but losses in Yemen.

  • rheddles

    It weould be interesting to know if a change in the ROE for the USN would require a public announcement.

  • FriendlyGoat

    The messaging of this is for Iran, DPRK, China and Russia. It also is for internal consumption here.

    • Psalms564

      Oh noooooooo!!!! I thought you kept good on your promise and went away. You lied to me. How can I regain my trust of people now?

      • FriendlyGoat

        I’ve had my chances to follow you around and declined to pursue them.

        • Psalms564

          You promised to leave. You broke your promise. Now because of you I’m developing trust issues. Thankfully, President Trump is making good on his promises. Totally restoring my faith in humanity.
          BTW, did you hear? Republicans are pushing for a national right to work law. No longer will people be beholden to some union bureaucrat. I’m sure one day I will get tired of you losing. Today is not that day.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’m not in a union and never was in one. I’m not actually losing any more than you are losing and I didn’t promise you anything other than my disinterest in either harassing you or being harassed by you.

          • Psalms564

            You promised to leave for the greener pastures. I knew you were lying, but you can fault me for trying. You know there’s this blocking feature now on Disqus? But no, a totalitarian Statist like you needs to make me spend 3 minutes to get a new handle. But it allowed me to teach my kids about how socialists are evil and find some new passages in the Bible. So it’s all good.
            You support unions. You mentioned numerous times how much you hate right to work laws. But hey, if you’ve come to realization that right to work is the right approach, welcome. There’s room here among free thinking people for one more.

      • Andrew Allison

        He’s a “progressive”, what else would you expect.

        • Psalms564

          I expected him to come by. The feeling of superiority he gets from the likes of us is too powerful of a drug. The good thing is I found a rather unique use for him. He keeps on getting me banned from this site so I have to keep creating new ID’s, which is actually quiet fun. I just want to see if I can trigger him with just one comment. I have these competitions with myself sometimes. I’m a huge game theory nerd and this is an outgrowth of that.

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