Last week, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would impose sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), in addition to the nuclear sanctions he’s reimposed on Iran since announcing the withdrawal from the nuclear deal last May.

In the announcement, Trump explained:

This designation will be the first time that the United States has ever named a part of another government as a FTO. It underscores the fact that Iran’s actions are fundamentally different from those of other governments. This action will significantly expand the scope and scale of our maximum pressure on the Iranian regime. It makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC. If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism.

The message to Iran, the president said, is “that its support for terrorism has serious consequences.”

The IRGC is estimated to control roughly 20% of Iran’s economy, CNBC reported. Because the IRGC is so embedded in the Iranian economy, businesses not wanting to run afoul of these new sanctions will have to be extra careful when partnering with Iranian firms to ensure it isn’t a front company for the IRGC.

According to CNBC, “Iran’s economy shrunk by 1.5% last year and is expected to contract by 3.6% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, compared to 3.8% growth in 2017.”

So the additional sanctions will further restrict Iran’s ability to destabilize the Middle East.

One of the things that the Obama administration assured us was that Iran would spend most of its sanctions relief on rebuilding its economy. In a 2015 speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said that “[A]s a result, Iran is expected to use new revenues chiefly to address those needs, including by shoring up its budget, building infrastructure, maintaining the stability of the rial, and attracting imports.”

The Obama administration said that Iran would only spend a small portion of the billions it would receive in sanctions relief on terror, and use most of the money on its people. Yet, last year, protests spread around Iran. And since the sanctions have been reimposed, Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanon-based terror proxy, has been suffering from a financial crisis.

Hezbollah’s chief, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, who once boasted that all of Hezbollah’s “income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” is now boasting that supporters are willing to sell their families kidneys to support the so-called resistance.

Nasrallah said that a man told him “my financial means are limited,” in a speech broadcast on Hezbollah’s Al Manar television station.” The man added, “But the moment I feel that the resistance is facing a real financial crisis, I am ready to sell my kidney, and have my son and wife each sell a kidney, and give the money to the resistance so that it can continue.”

Nasrallah’s financial woes are the result of the reimposed sanctions by Trump. In his speech announcing the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), Trump said, “Since the agreement, Iran’s bloody ambitions have grown only more brazen.” It would appear that he has begun the process of rolling back Iran’s aggression using sanction. The IRGC sanctions will hopefully accelerate that process.

In related news, France’s ambassador to the United States removed a tweet about the nuclear deal after Iran protested. Ambassador Gérard Araud, tweeted on Saturday, “It’s false to say that at the expiration of the JCPOA (nuclear deal), Iran will be allowed to enrich uranium,” causing a diplomatic firestorm.

Iran went into full outrage mode. Reuters reported that Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi called Araud’s comments “a major violation of the object and purpose of the JCPOA,” and demanded “immediate clarification by Paris, or we act accordingly.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted, “Reminder to our E3 partners in #JCPOA: There is NO prohibition on the enrichment of uranium by Iran under #NPT, JCPOA or UNSCR 2231. Neither now, nor in 2025 or beyond. Might be useful for European partners to actually read the document they signed on to, and pledged to defend.”

It’s odd for Zarif to refer to anyone signing the JCPOA, as it was never signed per Iran’s demand.

Araud had qualified his comment by adding, “Under the NPT and its additional protocol, it will have to prove, under strict monitoring, that its nuclear activities are civilian.” So Zarif’s claim is false, but it does betray Iran’s belief that the JCPOA gives it free rein to enrich uranium now and an unlimited amount when the JCPOA expires in 2025.

The latter incident raises a question: If Araud took down a tweet after offending Iran, what are the chances that his nation would stand up to Iran if it insisted on continuing to enrich uranium after 2025 even if its nuclear program was found not to be peaceful?

And if Iran believes that it has license to enrich uranium, why did the world have to bribe it with billions in sanctions relief to take the deal?

[Photo: MEMRI TV Videos / YouTube ]