Senior State official: Expect a steady stream of sanctions on Iran through end of the administration

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The United States will increase economic pressure against Iran through the transition to the Biden administration, according to State Department officials.

The Trump administration will implement “a steady stream of sanctions through the end of the administration” as a “continuation of our policy,” according to a senior State Department official.

Senior Trump administration officials are also warning the incoming administration against relaxing pressure against Iran. 

“If the pressure is not utilized, if it’s really discarded, that would be, I think, very foolish, even tragic,” said Elliott Abrams, the State Department’s special representative for Iran and Venezuela, while traveling this week in Saudi Arabia. 

President-elect Joe Biden has promised to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, negotiated while he was vice president, if Iran resumes compliance. The Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018 and restored economic sanctions against Iran that the agreement had lifted. Iran responded by violating the deal’s limits on uranium stockpiles, among other provisions. 

If the Biden administration attempted to rejoin the deal, Iran has also demanded compensation from the U.S. for leaving the agreement. The state-run IRNA news agency said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani demanded that “it is time for the U.S. to compensate for its previous mistakes and return to its international commitments.”

"It would be a really big mistake to turn the clock back to 2016 and resurrect the nuclear deal," former National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster told Fox News’ "Special Report." 

"The Iran nuclear deal was a political disaster masquerading as a diplomatic triumph."

MCMASTER WARNS BIDEN ON IRAN DEAL: DON'T RESURRECT 'POLITICAL DISASTER MASQUERADING AS A DIPLOMATIC TRIUMPH'

Democrats have criticized the Trump administration’s Iran policy, arguing the nuclear agreement had successfully contained Iran’s growing program. 

State Department officials argued that continuing pressure against Iran before Inauguration Day will actually help the new administration.

“The sanctions aren’t a conspiracy to ‘deep-state’ Biden’s Iran policy,” said a State Department official. “We’re building leverage that Biden can use to be successful in negotiations.”

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“If anything, Biden has an opportunity to use the sanctions in a game the Iranians excel at: Good-Cop, Bad-Cop,” said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“The compounding Iran sanctions we are seeing and hearing about, be it over ballistic missiles or human rights, provide Biden with leverage that shouldn't be squandered trying to bolster fictional Iranian ‘moderates’ or wasted on an interim deal.”

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