In recent weeks, Iran has seen social and economic turmoil.
An austerity budget was announced, triggering mass protests that grew to nationwide demonstrations — some of the largest seen in almost a decade. The government then cracked down on protesters claiming they were violent and organised by anti-government forces.
Security forces arrests hundreds, and during the clashes with protestors killed at least twenty people, including students.
Now, Donald Trump has said that if a new nuclear deal isn’t agreed upon between the two countries, he will reimpose the sanctions that were suspended in 2015.
Obama’s nuclear deal with the Iranians will lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. It has to be stopped.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2015
The Iran deal is terrible. Why didn't we get the uranium stockpile – it was sent to Russia. #SOTU
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2016
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 5, 2016
The Iran nuclear deal is a terrible one for the United States and the world. It does nothing but make Iran rich and will lead to catastrophe
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2015
Trump has been a long time critic of the 2015 deal that saw Iran scale back its nuclear capabilities so that it could not produce a nuclear bomb. In return, decades of sanctions from both the US and the UN were suspended. As part of the agreement, the US president has to sign a waiver every 120 days to continue the suspension of sanctions.
On Friday, the US imposed sanctions on fourteen individuals or entities, including Ayatollah Amoli Larijani for human rights issues. The US Treasury released a statement saying that he inflicted “torture or cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners in Iran, including amputations”.
In response to the recent protests, the Ayatollah called for a crackdown on those involved, labelling them “rioters” and “vandals”.
After the announcement, the Iranian foreign ministry said it would retaliate but offered no further details.
“The Trump regime’s hostile action … crossed all red lines of conduct in the international community and is a violation of international law and will surely be answered by a serious reaction of the Islamic Republic,” said a statement released by the foreign ministry.
The major changes that the US want to make is to permanently restrict Iran’s uranium enrichment as opposed to the current 2025 expiry. They also want their ballistic missile programme to be addressed.
Trump has never been a proponent of the deal, calling it “the worst ever”. According to one official, he is prepared to back a modification to the deal should one be reached. He has also stated that he will withdraw from the deal should he not approve.
Several countries, including Russia, have criticised Trump’s reaction to the deal. French president Emmanuel Macron contacted Trump, urging for “the strict application of the deal and the importance of all the signatories to respect it”. Germany indicated that it may be considering going ahead with the deal regardless of what the US does.