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As Trump’s Administration nears its final months in power, it has been revealed that the United States plans to tighten sanctions on Tehran.
This is according to the top U.S. envoy on Iran, Elliott Abrams, who on Wednesday urged President-elect Joe Biden to use the leverage to press for a deal that reduces the regional and nuclear threats posed by the Islamic republic.
He praised Biden’s National Security Adviser and nominee for Secretary of State as ‘terrific people’, but cautioned against repeating what he saw as former President Barack Obama’s mistakes in negotiating the 2015 nuclear deal.
The deal was left unilaterally by President Donald Trump two years ago. Biden, who is set to take office on January 20, has stated that he will return the United States to the Obama-era deal if Iran resumes compliance.
Abrams, speaking at a virtual Beirut Institute event, said the Trump administration plans further pressure on Tehran, with sanctions related to arms, weapons of mass destruction and human rights.
‘We will have next week, and the week after, and the week after – all through December and January, there will be sanctions that deal with arms, that deal with weapons of mass destruction, that deal with human rights. … So this will continue on for another couple of months, right until the end,’ Abrams said.
Also speaking at the event, the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea said the United States could impose further sanctions on Lebanese figures over corruption and aiding the Iran-backed Hezbollah group after Washington in recent months blacklisted three former Lebanese government ministers, including the president’s son-in-law.
‘There are files that are in preparation under authorities that have to do with counter-terrorism and … against corruption,’ Shea told the event.’
Speaking further, Abrams said he expects a negotiation to take place with Iran next year and that he believes a deal will be struck under the Biden administration.
‘We think the Biden administration has a great opportunity because there is so much leverage on Iran through the sanctions,’ Abrams said, adding he sees an opportunity to work with France, Germany and the United Kingdom, as well as allies in the region, to strike a deal that addresses both missile and regional threats from Iran.’
‘If we discard the leverage we have, it would really be tragic and foolish. But if we use it there is a chance I think for constructive agreement that addresses all of these problems,’ he added.
‘He said it would be wrong to assume the new administration could reverse Iran policy like switching a light, and said negotiations would take many months.’
Meanwhile, Iran’s clerical rulers have ruled out negotiations over its missile program or changing its regional policy. Instead it wants a change in U.S. policy, including the lifting of sanctions.
Tensions have risen between Washington and Tehran since Trump abandoned Obama’s 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and restored harsh economic sanctions to pressure Tehran to negotiate deeper curbs on its nuclear program, ballistic missile development and support for regional proxy forces.
Abrams on Wednesday announced Iran-related sanctions on four entities in China and Russia, accusing them of activities promoting Iran’s missile program.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK