President Obama’s nuclear deal did not wipe out all sanctions against Iran immediately. The Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 is still in effect, and the U.S. House of Representatives just voted to renew it for another ten years.
Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned on Wednesday that Iran would retaliate if the Senate passes the bill, and the president signs it into law.
“The current U.S. government has breached the nuclear deal in many occasions,” Khamenei said to a meeting of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, as quoted by Reuters. “The latest is extension of sanctions for 10 years, that if it happens, would surely be against JCPOA, and the Islamic Republic would definitely react to it.”
“JCPOA” is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of the Iran nuclear deal. As Reuters notes, President-elect Donald Trump has been strongly critical of the deal, to the point where he said he would “rip up” the JCPOA, which prompted Khamenei to retort that Iran would “set fire” to it.
“If the United States passes this sanctions regime or its extension, then obviously Iran will have to react in kind,” University of Tehran professor Mohammad Marandi told Iran’s PressTV. “The concern in Iran is that if the United States is allowed to continue to act with impunity, the agreement will ultimately become meaningless.”
“Not only the United States confiscated two billion dollars of Iranian money and… added… people and entities to the sanctions regime, but it has also passed a law by the president that creates visa restrictions among other limitations,” Marandi complained.
The $2 billion in frozen assets he mentioned actually dates back to a 2007 court decision, while congressional Republicans thought the visa rules for Iran were too lenient, not to mention executive-branch defiance of clear congressional intent.
Besides renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act, the other recent development infuriating Iran was House passage of a bill last Thursday to block the sale of Boeing and Airbus aircraft to Iran. The sale had already been approved by the Obama administration. The White House threatened a veto if the bill got past the Senate, which is seen as unlikely, but that’s another calculation that could change when President Donald Trump takes office, backed by the most powerful Republican Party in a century.