The US Department of Justice forced European banks to pay penalties of more than $15 billion for violating secondary sanctions. In light of these losses, many European firms are weighing their options before investing on a larger scale in the Iranian economy and thereby committing to dealing with the country for a longer period.
Since his inauguration in January, Trump has not repeated his campaign rhetoric that his “number-one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.” But uncertainty over US policy toward Iran remains, especially as Washington has in the past few weeks and months already taken several steps against Tehran.
In January, Rex Tillerson, then a nominee for secretary of state, announced his intention to conduct a “full review” of the nuclear deal during his Senate confirmation hearing. In February, Iran was put “on notice” by then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who later resigned, while the White House introduced new sanctions in response to an Iranian missile test.
Moreover, ahead of this year’s annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) meeting, held March 26-28, several US lawmakers announced further sanctions legislation targeting Iran over its ballistic missile program, human rights record and alleged support for terrorism, among other issues.
These measures remain largely symbolic. The “full review” of the nuclear deal and putting Iran “on notice” have no legal consequences. The sanctions imposed by the White House are in line with JCPOA provisions, while Sen. Ben Cardin, a supporter of the congressional push for new sanctions, has stressed that the sanctions bills are “consistent” with the nuclear deal.