The growing status of Iranian nuclear program, which the country says is for peaceful purposes and consistent with the NPT, has always been a source of concern for the US. As Iran failed to comply to the agreements of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the US withdrew from the deal in May 2018.
Iran’s history with the US sanctions that are basically aimed at bringing a broader deal in front, while limiting the Iranian ballistic missile program and regional activities, have crippled the Middle-Eastern economy.
To increase more pressure on Iran, the State Department on Thursday imposed news sanctions on Iranian construction sector and trade in four materials used in its military or nuclear programs. Although it waived off sanctions to let firms such as Russian, Chinese and European continue non-proliferation work in Iran.
The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, who has previously aimed at de-escalating US-Iran tensions, stated that Iran’s construction sector was controlled directly or indirectly by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, founded after the Iranian Revolution.
Since Washington considers IRGC a foreign terrorist organization, imposing new sanctions to constrain Iran’s missile program was like fulfilling a sense a duty.
Despite varied restrictions imposed through sanctions, Iran has managed to acquire the largest and most diverse missile force in the Middle East with the import of materials and technology from North Korea and China. In return, both the countries are receiving oil shipments from a larger number of Iranian tankers, defying the US sanctions.
The US believes that if the Iranian nuclear program is not halted, it would together possess a military threat to the regional stability.
So, the new sanctions imposed by the State Department would affect the sale of raw and semi-finished metals, graphite, coal, and software for integrating industrial purposes in Iran’s construction sector.
The fact sheet identified four “strategic materials” used in connection with nuclear, military, or ballistic missile programs as stainless steel 304L tubes; MN40 manganese brazing foil; MN70 manganese brazing foil; and stainless steel CrNi60WTi ESR + VAR (chromium, nickel, 60 percent tungsten, titanium, electro-slag remelting, vacuum arc remelting).
On the other hand, the waivers that have been renewed for 90 days would cover support for Iran’s existing nuclear reactor at Bushehr, the provision of enriched uranium for the Tehran Research Reactor and the transfer of spent and scrap nuclear fuel out of Iran.
It would also include redesigning Iran’s heavy water Arak research reactor to render it, disabling it to make bomb-grade plutonium under normal operation and modification of centrifuges at Iran’s Fordow fuel enrichment plant.
It appears that imposing sanctions to halt Iranian nuclear program is unlikely to work in the favor of the US. The US’ act of imposing sanctions on Iran, China and North Korea, while pressurizing them to negotiate has had only a little success in the past, since they have retaliated violently against it.
Instead of accepting terms, there are chances that Iran might plan another offensive against the US. A report suggested that since May, six oil tankers and a US spy drone have been attacked near the Strait of Hormuz that further escalated US-Iran tensions.