An economic war is pending between the United States and Iran, showing no signs of an early end.
Tehran has been sanctioned in one form or another over the last 40 years. However, Iran has never experienced as much pressure as now. The Trump administration has used all the weight of the US financial system to burden the Iranian economy like a ton of bricks. With every US Treasury sanction, Tehran's finances are placed in even closer vases. Washington's cessation of oil imports has forced countries such as South Korea, China, India and Italy either to severely curtail the purchase of Iranian crude oil or to cease these imports altogether. Iranian crude oil exports for this month are estimated at 400,000 barrels a day, less than half the April price and accounting for 2 million barrels a day in the summer months of 201
The Trump government is not finished yet. Bloomberg reported that Washington had sent a letter to the European Union-appointed body to speed up trade between the EU and Iran, warning its operators that any entity involved in the mechanism could be sanctioned. "Conducting activities that violate US sanctions can have serious consequences, including loss of access to the US financial system," said treasurer Sigal Mandelker. It was as clear a signal as Washington could deliver: if you engage in the Iranian market, you can kiss your business in the United States.
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Nobody can deny that the maximum pressure campaign has any financial implications. The Iranians should lose a good part of the change by the end of the year. State Department Secretary Brian Hook has already boasted that the sanctions have cost Iran $ 10 billion in oil export losses, higher inflation, a decline in riyals, and growing discontent among the masses.
The sanctions should not only hit Tehran's wallet. The goal goes far beyond that. In essence, Washington is trying to persuade Iranians to change their behavior and become what Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo calls "a normal country." In this regard, the Iran policy of the government does not show the desired effect.
Iran shows no signs of creases under pressure. The Iranian military and high-ranking politicians, from the Islamic Revolutionary Guerrilla militia corps to the moderates in President Hassan Rouhani's office, swear they disregard the bullying tactics of a hostile attacker who wants to destroy and replace the Islamic Republic with regimes, that would receive orders from Washington. American officials would turn a blind eye to such allusions, but for the Iranian elite, these feelings are real. No sovereign nation, especially not as proud as Iran, would find it acceptable to surrender to an opponent. This is indeed a demonstration of weakness, which in the future only calls for more pressure.
President Trump may be open to trade with the Iranians. He is, after all, a man accustomed to the boardroom. I am confident that Trump, who was partly elected to prevent another stupid war of choice in the Middle East, is not negotiating a dispute with Tehran. He points to the fact that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has no choice but to crawl to the table with his hands and knees to leave the shop when the money runs dry.
Trump does not demand a negotiation, but a complete capitulation of a regime that has rejected surrender in much darker times. The president would not think about surrender when he sat in his Trump Tower office and took care of contractors. We should not expect Iran to think about it either.
Daniel DePetris ( @DanDePetris ) is a contributor to the Beltway Confidential blog of the Washington Examiner. His opinions are his own.