Given the analysis of current at the moment of the situation it can be assumed that the United States chose a course of action for economic strangulation of Iran with the aim of reducing its economic and military capabilities, increasing discontent of the population, strengthening of separatist tendencies in the country and overthrow the current government in the destabilization of the internal situation. In the above scenario, there is no direct military intervention by the United States. A military force, in this case, plays the role of a deterrent.
We can say that the position of Donald trump against Iran looks quite consistent. Prior to participation in elections of the President of the United States trump spoke out against the ongoing Obama administration policy towards Iran, he considered it too soft.
Having received presidential powers, Donald Trump in August 2018 issued a decree on the unilateral withdrawal of the US from the Treaty on the “nuclear deal”, the official name of the “Joint comprehensive action plan”. The 2015 agreement provides for the lifting of sanctions against Iran in exchange for its refusal to enrich uranium and create nuclear weapons. This document also gives Iran the right to develop nuclear energy. The agreement was signed on the one hand by Iran, on the other by permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, USA, China, Britain and France), as well as Germany.
Since August 2018, the period of resumption of sanctions against Iran by the United States has begun. The second stage of sanctions was launched on November 5, 2018. An embargo was imposed on the export of Iranian oil. At the same time, Iran was disconnected from the international interbank system SWIFT.
For six months, the US allowed eight countries to buy Iranian oil: Greece, Italy, Taiwan, India, China, South Korea, Turkey and Japan. At the end of April 2019, this permission was not extended by the United States. But in advance, Greece, Italy and Taiwan stopped buying oil from Iran. The rest of the countries have stopped doing so since the beginning of May.
The largest importers of Iranian oil were India and China. And there was hope for them as large countries capable of pursuing a policy independent of the United States, but these expectations were not met. In the past period of us sanctions against Iran in 2012-2015, India, by the way, bought Iranian oil.
According to a report by the International Energy Agency, Iran’s oil exports fell from 2.6 million barrels per day in April 2018 to 1.3 million barrels per day in April 2019. In May, the results are even worse. Reuters, citing sources in the market reports the fall of this figure to 500 thousand barrels per day.
During the last sanctions campaign in 2012-2015, Iran’s exports did not fall below 900,000 barrels per day. Thus, economic sanctions are now much tougher.
Iran has proven oil reserves of 157 billion barrels. OPEC believes that in 2012, the country’s revenues from oil exports amounted to 101 billion dollars, by 2015 they decreased to 27 billion dollars. The lifting of the embargo allowed Iran to raise the level of oil revenues to 41 billion dollars in 2016, in 2017 this figure increased to almost 53 billion dollars. Thus, it can be estimated that with the export of 500 thousand barrels per day, Iran can receive an income of about 12-13 billion dollars per year.
However, it is worth listening to the opinion of Saudi energy Minister Khalid al-faith, who said that no one knows exactly how much oil is produced and exported by Iran, many deliveries go unnoticed. The United States has set a goal to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero. I believe that a significant reduction has already been achieved, but it is unlikely to be reduced to zero: the grey oil supply market will work under almost any conditions.
The US did not stop at oil. On May 8, 2019, us President Donald Trump signed a decree on sanctions against producers and sellers of steel, aluminium, copper and iron from Iran. The new decree aims to deprive Iran of income: “We are talking about income that can be used for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, financing of terrorist groups, aggressive actions in the region and for military expansion.”
How sanctions affected the economy of Iran and its population. According to the IMF, in 2018, Iran experienced a recession with negative GDP growth of 3.8% and an acceleration of inflation, which reached 31.2% (after 9.6% in 2017). With the further strengthening of us sanctions, the IMF forecast for 2019 is an aggravation of the crisis with a recession of GDP of 6% and an acceleration of inflation to 37.2%.
Iran’s strong point is that it has a fairly high level of foreign exchange reserves of $ 100 billion and a low level of external debt – according to IMF estimates, 9% of GDP in 2018.
The sharp depreciation of the Riyal and the shortage of necessary goods caused discontent of the population before the introduction of the current sanctions regime by the United States. The protests took place in the country at the end of 2017. Now the number of dissatisfied citizens is becoming more and more. The population is annoyed by the government’s spending on supporting allied countries and controlled groups abroad. We are talking about Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq.
According to us and Israeli sources, only the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah received from Iran 700 million dollars a year. Financial problems caused a reduction in its funding. This led to the withdrawal of significant forces of the group from Syria to Lebanon, and reduce the monthly salary of the members of the organization.
There is also information that Pro-Iranian forces are no longer taking part in the current offensive of Syrian troops in the North-West of Syria. So the decline in oil revenues hit the financing of Iran’s allies.
The United States will also use the separatism factor inside Iran, especially the Kurdish issue. But separatism is always raising its head with the weakening of the regime. In the South-West of the country live Arabs, about two per cent of the total population. In the South-East of Iran live Baluchi, they are also about two per cent.
In the North-West of Iran is a region of compact residence of the Kurds, their ten per cent of the eighty million Iranians. Iraq already has Iraqi Kurdistan. In Syria, the US creates Syrian Kurdistan on 28% of Syrian territory. The Iranian Kurdistan may appear in the queue – 10% of 80 million is 8 million people.