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Inside The Iran Sanctions48:27
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People make their way on a sidewalk in downtown Tehran, Iran, Monday, July 30, 2018. Iran's currency has dropped to a record low ahead of the imposition of renewed American sanctions, with many fearing prolonged economic suffering or possible civil unrest. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)MoreCloseclosemore
People make their way on a sidewalk in downtown Tehran, Iran, Monday, July 30, 2018. Iran's currency has dropped to a record low ahead of the imposition of renewed American sanctions, with many fearing prolonged economic suffering or possible civil unrest. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

With Eric Westervelt (@Ericnpr)

Automobiles, gold, steel. The Trump administration reimposes financial sanctions on Iran, with those on oil to come. Where might this hard-line policy lead?

Guests

Thomas Erdbrink, Tehran bureau chief for The New York Times. (@ThomasErdbrink)

Reuel Marc Gerecht, senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Former director of the Middle East Initiative at the Project for the New American Century and Middle East specialist at the CIA’s Directorate of Operations.

Jarrett Blanc, senior fellow in the Geoeconomics and Strategy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Former State Department coordinator for Iran nuclear implementation at the U.S. Department of State under President Obama, where he was responsible for the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program. (@JarrettBlanc)

From The Reading List

New York Times: "Protests Pop Up Across Iran, Fueled by Daily Dissatisfaction" — "Across Iran’s heartland, from the sweltering heat of its southern cities to the bustling capital, protesters have taken to the streets with increasing intensity in recent months, much to the satisfaction of the Trump administration, which is hoping the civil unrest will put pressure on Iranian leaders.

"Some demonstrations — about the weak economy, strict Islamic rules, water shortages, religious disputes, local grievances — have turned deadly. The protesters have shouted harsh slogans against clerical leaders and their policies. The events are broadly shared on social media and on the dozens of Persian language satellite channels beaming into the Islamic republic.

"On Thursday, protests were held in the cities of Arak, Isfahan, Karaj and Shiraz, as people — in numbers ranging in the hundreds, perhaps more — took to the streets, chanting slogans like “death to high prices,” but also criticizing top officials. A smaller protest was held in Tehran, where some people were arrested, according to videos taken at the scene."

The Weekly Standard: "The Preeminent Challenge: For President Trump and His Foreign Policy Team, Cracking the Islamic Republic is Job One" — "The biggest foreign-policy challenge before Donald Trump isn’t North Korea, where the usual pattern of diplomacy and deception persists. Nor is it Russia; it doesn’t have the muscle to take on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which isn’t dead yet. Nor is the most imminent problem China, which doesn’t have the navy and air force to tempt fate in the South and East China Seas. It will one day really challenge the United States and East Asia’s democratic and anti-Chinese authoritarian states—the type of fascist confrontation that could lead to carnage—but Washington probably has years to check Beijing’s ambitions.

"The most troublesome, immediate challenge comes from Iran. Trump’s decision to walk away from his predecessor’s deeply flawed arms-control agreement will likely soon consume the administration’s attention since, depending on what the mullahs do, war may once more be on the horizon. If the president fails to corral the clerics and the Revolutionary Guards through sanctions and the threat of force, the reverberations will surely weaken, if not gut, the administration’s capacity to play hardball elsewhere. Barack Obama punted the Iranian nuclear problem down the road slightly (and didn’t really pivot to Asia). Trump has probably eliminated the possibility of punting. He now may have to deal with Iran more decisively than his predecessors."

The Trump administration is reimposing economic sanctions on Iran, putting new pressure on the Shiite power and fraying relations with European allies. In a tweet the president today warned, "Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!" Others worry Trump's hard-line policy will only worsen regional and world tensions.

This hour, On Point: America and Iran — the way forward.

— Eric Westervelt

This program aired on August 7, 2018.

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