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US decision to prolong sanctions against Iran is show of muscles - analysts

November 11, 2015, 19:31 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© AP Photo/Ronald Zak

MOSCOW, November 11. /TASS/. US President Barack Obama’s decision to prolong sanctions against Iran is clear evidence of the intention to demonstrate against the backdrop of failures in the struggle against the Islamic State that he still remains a "tough guy," polled analysts have told TASS.

On Monday, Obama signed a document to prolong for another year the state of emergency in relations with Iran, declared more than 30 years ago after on November 4, 1979 66 US citizens were taken hostage at the US embassy in Tehran. The 39th US president, Jimmy Carter, signed executive order 12170 to freeze all official Iranian assets in US banks and their offices abroad, prohibited all export from the United States to Iran and embargoed the import of all Iranian goods into the United States.

As he extended the anti-Iranian sanctions, Obama said that relations with Iran had not been normalized yet. The US Congress is now working on a new package of measures against Iran. Their purpose, US officials say, is to encourage Iran to lift the international community’s remaining concerns regarding the Iranian nuclear program - the subject matter of a comprehensive agreement concluded in Vienna on July 14.

For its part, the Iranian parliament on November 1 asked President Hassan Rouhani to refrain from taking any action to comply with the liabilities under the Iranian nuclear program deal until the United States and the European Union declared the sanctions against Iran void.

The president of the Religion and Politics Institute, Alexander Ignatenko, says the United States is pursuing its own aims and interests regarding Iran. "Although the comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program settles theoretically and conceptually all problems involving a hypothetical nuclear threat from Iran under the IAEA control Washington still has its own claims addressed to Tehran. The key feature of the US stance is the White House made a decision to prolong the 30-year-old anti-Iranian sanctions in defiance of the opinion of the European Union and the sextet of international mediators, who are for the gradual lifting of sanctions as Tehran enforces compliance with the nuclear program deal," Ignatenko told TASS.

"One cannot but recall the notorious Jackson-Vanik amendment to the US Trade Act of 1974, which restricted trade with countries that hindered emigration. Formally the amendment was imposed on the Soviet Union for hampering the exodus of Soviet Jews. It was lifted from Russia in 2012. In other words, the amendment stayed effective for 38 years, even after all former Soviet and Russian citizens who had wished to leave the country did so. Now the same scenario may be employed used against Iran," Ignatenko warns.

He speculates that the prolongation of US sanctions against Iran may have been prompted by competition in the US market of hydrocarbons. "The US Congress just recently issued permission to export US shale oil. If Iran resumed the production and export of crude after the lifting of UN, EU and unilateral US sanctions, a clash of US and Iranian economic interests would have been unavoidable. The sanctions delay this moment.

The president of the Middle East Institute, Yevgeny Satanovsky, has interpreted Obama’s demarche against Iran as an attempt to regain political points the United States lost when it became obvious that the US-led international coalition against the Islamic State failed. "With Iran’s assistance Russia has outplayed the United States in the struggle against the Islamic militants in Syria. Obama will now have to prove he is a ‘tough a guy.’ That’s why he puts on airs and sends to the US Congress his notice that prolongs the sanctions against Iran. It’s a kind of game the Democrats have decided to play before the presidential election."

The deputy director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of US and Canada Studies, Viktor Kremenyuk, too, believes that the prolongation of US sanctions against Iran is a gesture emphasizing Obama is adamant. "By signing the decree the US president demonstrates to his fellow Americans and the allies that Iran remains under Washington’s control. As long as the Iranian assets stay frozen in the US banks and their offices around the world, the White House will keep Tehran on a short lead. Also, it is a means to put pressure on Iran to ensure its unconditional compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal. In this way Obama sends a message to the friendly countries the United States will be prepared to guarantee their security and satisfy their demand for fuel with US shale oil," Kremenyuk told TASS.

"The United States still dislikes Tehran and has no faith in it at all. It sees Iran as a surprise box, where the religious leaders can change the regime any moment. The US Congress is likely to give Obama’s decision a go-ahead."

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