US President Donald Trump has approved a new strategy for Iran. The strategy promises that the US “will deny the Iranian regime all paths to a nuclear weapon”.
The plan focuses on neutralizing the Iran’s Government influence and constraining its “aggression” in the region, among other things by cutting funding to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
“The IRGC’s stated purpose is to subvert the international order,” says the plan. “The IRGC’s power and influence have grown over time, even as it has remained unaccountable to the Iranian people, answering only to [its leader] Khamenei. It is hard to find a conflict or a suffering people in the Middle East that the IRGC’s tentacles do not touch.”
“We will rally the international community to condemn the IRGC’s gross violations of human rights and its unjust detention of American citizens and other foreigners on specious charges,” states the strategy.
It also features a list of Iranian malign activities, which include ballistic missile development and proliferation, material and financial support for terrorism and extremism, unrelenting hostility to Israel, consistently threatening freedom of navigation in Persian Gulf and grievous human rights abuses.
When it comes to the Iranian Nuclear Program, the plan states that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action must be “strictly enforced” and the International Atomic Energy Agency must be allowed to inspect Iran’s military sites.
Trump also announced “tough” sanctions against the IRGC accusing them in supporting of terrorism.
“It has hijacked large portions of Iran’s economy and seized massive religious endowments to fund war and terror abroad … I am authorizing the Treasury Department to further sanction the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support for terrorism and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents and affiliates,” Trump said.
The US Treasury Department officially designated the IRGC as a terrorist group:
The IRGC was designated today for the activities it undertakes to assist in, sponsor, or provide financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF. The IRGC, which is the parent organization of the IRGC-QF, was previously designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 on October 25, 2007, in connection with its support to Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs, and pursuant to E.O. 13553 on June 9, 2011 and E.O. 13606 on April 23, 2012, in connection with Iran’s human rights abuses.The IRGC has provided material support to the IRGC-QF, including by providing training, personnel, and military equipment. The IRGC has trained IRGC-QF personnel in Iran prior to their deployments to Syria, and has deployed at least hundreds of personnel from its conventional ground forces to Syria to support IRGC-QF operations. IRGC personnel in Syria have provided military assistance to the IRGC-QF, and have been assigned to IRGC-QF units on the battlefield, where they provide critical combat support, including serving as snipers and machine gunners.Additionally, the IRGC has recruited, trained, and facilitated the travel of Afghan and Pakistani nationals to Syria, where those personnel are assigned to, and fight alongside, the IRGC-QF. The IRGC also has worked with the IRGC-QF to transfer military equipment to Syria. The IRGC used both IRGC bases and civilian airports in Iran to transfer military equipment to Iraq and Syria for the IRGC-QF.
Trump wanted to strike a blow against the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement in defiance of international support for it for a long time. On October 13, he plans to decertify it.
But the Trump administration made it clear that it wants to leave the 2015 accord intact, at least for now. Trump’s decision to decertify the nuclear deal will not withdraw the United States from the agreement, but he will attempt to persuade the US Congress to approve some separate measures to toughen US policy toward Iran.
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he did not believe decertifying the agreement would scuttle it, as many congressional leaders and senior diplomatic, military and national security advisers considered the deal worth preserving if possible. It is entirely possible that Congress will choose to do nothing, leaving the terms of the agreement unchallenged.
Trump also plans to give the US Treasury Department broad authority to impose economic sanctions against the IRGC, in response to what Washington calls its efforts to destabilize and undermine its opponents in the Middle East.
The 2015 accord was designed to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon, with the president’s administration having to certify to Congress that Iran is upholding its part of the deal every 90 days. France, Germany, China, Russia and the UK are also partners in the deal.
The accord lifted some sanctions, allowing Iran to trade on international markets and sell oil. The lifting of sanctions is dependent on Iran restricting its nuclear program. It must restrict its uranium stockpile, build no more heavy-water reactors for 15 years, and allow inspectors into the country.