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Biden renews US national emergency, sanctions against Iran

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Joe Biden signs an executive order with Vice President Kamala Harris at the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, on February 24, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

President Joe Biden has extended for another year the so-called US national emergency declared in 1995 with regard to Iran as well as all-out sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

In a letter sent to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday, Biden said, "I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 12957 with respect to Iran and to maintain in force comprehensive sanctions against Iran to respond to this threat.”

In extending the so-called emergency, Biden claimed that the actions and policies of the Iranian government posed an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.

The US president alleged that Tehran was proliferating and developing "missiles and other asymmetric and conventional weapons capabilities,” supporting "terrorist groups” and maintaining what he called a "network and campaign of regional aggression”.

When he came to office, Biden claimed willingness to return to a 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, but he has taken no meaningful measure to undo the former US government’s wrongs.

The administration of former US president Trump unilaterally abandoned the nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, and unleashed a "maximum pressure” campaign with the stated goal of forcing Iran to negotiate "a better agreement”.

Those pressures have failed to cow Iranians who have responded to Washington’s pressure policy with their own "maximum resistance”.

Biden, who had said Trump’s maximum pressure was a "maximum failure”, has not changed that policy, prompting Tehran to state that "Washington is addicted to pressure, sanctions and bullying, and it does not work with Iran”.

The US is demanding that Iran walk back all its remedial steps which it has taken in response to the US violations and the Europeans’ failure to support the Islamic Republic under the JCPOA.

Iran insists the United States has to lift its sanctions before the Islamic Republic considers a reversal.  

On Wednesday, two Senate Republicans called on the US State Department to back a new arms embargo on Iran.

Senators Joni Ernst and Bill Hagerty sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging him to impose the ban on Tehran after a similar ban from the United Nations expired last October.

"We must impose a meaningful and effective arms embargo, complete with secondary sanctions, to prevent countries and businesses from selling weapons and arms to Iran as well as preventing Iran from selling its weapons abroad,” they wrote, claiming that "Iran is not only a threat to US security, but also to our allies and partners.”

An arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council on Iran in 2007 expired on October 18, 2020 under Resolution 2231, which endorses the JCPOA. The Trump administration tried twice, but failed to keep the arms ban in force against Iran.


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