The latest round of US sanctions on Iran comes amid stalled diplomacy between the two nations.
The measures announced on March 2, 2023, target the country’s oil and petrochemical sales, with the State Department stating that the US is committed to significantly reducing Iran’s energy exports and will sanction those facilitating Iran’s petroleum and petrochemical trade. The new measures hit six entities accused of involvement in the transport or sale of Iranian oil and petrochemicals.
The targeted entities include a Vietnam-based company, two firms based in China, two others in Iran, and one in the United Arab Emirates. The measures block the entities’ assets in the US and restrict other companies from doing business with them.
The US has been imposing an enormous amount of sanctions on Iran since 2018 when then-President Donald Trump nixed a multilateral nuclear deal that saw Iran scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting international sanctions against its economy.
Us President Joe Biden, who was vice president when the 2015 agreement was originally signed, has promised to revive the pact. But numerous rounds of indirect talks over the past two years have failed to restore the nuclear deal.
While Washington often reiterates it will never allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon, US officials have recently said they are no longer focused on the nuclear talks, as they address other issues related to Tehran, which denies seeking nuclear arms. US-Iranian relations have been further complicated by a crackdown on anti-government protests in Iran and Washington’s allegations that Tehran supplied Russia with drones that Moscow used against Ukraine.
Despite the complicated relations between the US and Iran, both nations have been working on a prisoner exchange deal. The US has been pushing for the release of three of its citizens imprisoned in Iran, while Iran has accused the US of showing “bad faith” in the talks to negotiate a prisoner swap. Washington says it will do everything possible to secure the release of its citizens, but Iran’s government continues to detain citizens of the US and other countries around the world as an inexcusable tactic to gain political leverage.
Overall, the US-Iran relations remain strained, with both nations having different priorities and agendas.
While the US aims to reduce Iran’s energy exports and prevent Tehran from building a nuclear weapon, Iran continues to face economic and political challenges due to the sanctions. It remains to be seen whether the two nations will be able to reach a lasting resolution to the challenges posed by Iran’s nuclear program and other issues in the future.