Op-Ed

Trump Tightens Noose Around Iran's Economy, Destroying Last Vestige of Obama's Bad Nuclear Deal

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The last remnants of President Barack Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran will soon be gone, ending the legacy of U.S. appeasement of the rogue regime and opening the door to a more effective containment policy.

The Trump administration is tightening the screws on Iran with a carefully-orchestrated policy designed to choke off the Islamic Republic’s oil exports while, at the same time, avoiding disruptions to the global supply chain.

By restoring the full sanctions regime that brought the mullahs to the negotiating table in 2015, President Donald Trump hopes to pressure Iran into agreeing to a new deal that will actually prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, in contrast to the toothless deal negotiated by former Secretary of State John Kerry on Obama’s behalf.

Following the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last year, Trump re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s economy, but gave eight countries 180-day waivers allowing them to temporarily continue importing Iranian crude oil.

Three of those countries have already zeroed-out their imports of Iranian oil, and the other five — China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey — now risk losing access to the U.S. financial system if they don’t follow suit by May 2 after the White House announced that the waivers would not be extended.

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The waivers were always intended to be temporary — a way to let the recipients wean themselves off their dependency on Iranian crude oil while the State Department worked to minimize the impact of removing Iranian oil from the world supply.

According to the president, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries are going to offset the loss of Iranian crude by ramping up their own production.

Experts, however, anticipate that the effects of cutting Iran’s oil exports to zero will be minimal in any event, since global supply is expected to exceed demand this year.

The impact on Iran, however, is likely to be devastating.

Iran’s oil exports have already fallen to around 1 million barrels per day, down from 2.5 million one year ago, and there are signs that the loss of cash revenues is limiting Iran’s ability to sponsor terrorist networks in other countries, such as Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, inflation in Iran has soared above 50 percent, prices for consumer staples have nearly doubled, and high unemployment continues to fuel periodic anti-government protests by the Iranian people.

Ending the waivers for Iranian crude oil will ratchet up the pressure on Tehran significantly, presenting Ayatollah Khamenei and his supporters with a stark choice: Either come to the table to discuss a new deal that will fully and permanently prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, or watch their country’s economy disintegrate and wait for the inevitable popular uprisings to remove them from power.

Obama threw Iran a lifeline with the ill-conceived nuclear deal that essentially tried to bribe our adversary into abandoning its nuclear ambitions, ensuring that the Islamic Republic would remain a threat for years to come.

Now that Trump is tearing up the last lingering artifacts of Obama’s folly, America is finally flexing its diplomatic muscles and sending a clear signal to the rest of the world that we will not tolerate rogue regimes that threaten world peace.

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Robert F. Dees is a retired U.S. Army major general.

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