By Andrew TablerSeptember 13, 2018 11:05AMAt first glance, the news seems fairly good for Israel.
The country is on track to have more than 100 nuclear warheads, with the United States’ military capabilities far behind.
And even though the president, Donald Trump, has been reluctant to sign a new round of international sanctions against Iran, the new sanctions will likely force the country to negotiate new nuclear agreements with the rest of the world.
Still, it is unclear what effect those new sanctions are having on the US’s ability to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
The last time a US president signed new sanctions on Iran was in the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when President Jimmy Carter signed an executive order.
The US imposed sanctions on key sectors of the Iranian economy, including the oil and petrochemical industries, which it accused of funding and providing the country with financial and logistical support for its ballistic missile program.
The Iran nuclear deal, signed by then-president Bill Clinton in 2000, required Iran to freeze its nuclear activities in return for a number of restrictions on its nuclear program.
But while the nuclear deal has been in place since 2015, Iran is still able to obtain uranium from its traditional uranium enrichment facilities in Natanz, a key international uranium facility, and from overseas, including from Russia and Kazakhstan.
Iran has not ratified the agreement, and the US has repeatedly tried to get Iran to do so.
In 2017, it was reported that Iran was seeking to acquire uranium from Russia for its nuclear weapons program.
On Sunday, the US announced a new sanctions package, targeting “Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear enrichment capabilities.”
The new sanctions target a range of sectors of Iran’s economy, and include those sectors in the oil, gas, metals and metals-related sectors, as well as the defense and aerospace industries.
The sanctions also include “an aggregate of more than $1.3 billion in sanctions relief from the sanctions imposed on Iran and its ballistic missiles and nuclear facilities in violation of its obligations under the nuclear agreement,” the US Treasury Department said in a statement.
According to the Treasury Department, the latest sanctions target “the ballistic missile capabilities of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s military and its nuclear infrastructure, the ballistic missile procurement program, and its financial and banking infrastructure.”
As the New York Times noted on Sunday, “it is unclear whether the new measures are actually intended to deter the development of a nuclear weapons capability by Iran, or if they are intended to further pressure Iran.”
While the sanctions have the potential to deter Iranian activity in some areas, there is little evidence that they will deter Iran’s ability or willingness to continue its ballistic ballistic missile development program.
According to a report in the Washington Post, the Iranian government “has no credible ability to deliver a missile to its nuclear facilities.”
Moreover, even if the US were to take measures against Iran’s ballistic missiles, the likelihood of Iran using these missiles in a strike against the US would be limited.
Iran is expected to use some of its ballistic rockets in its retaliatory strikes against the United Kingdom and the United Nations.
In November, a US Navy guided-missile destroyer fired two missiles that hit targets in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
In April, the USS Harry S Truman, a nuclear-powered nuclear-capable attack submarine, fired two cruise missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia.
And in December, the guided-diverting USS Mason fired a ballistic missile at a target in the Strait of Hormuz.
The Pentagon and the Trump administration have not yet said when they will start implementing the sanctions.
But the Treasury and the State Department have both said they are not likely to act in any manner in the coming weeks, with some warning that the new action could trigger sanctions against the Iranian regime in the form of asset freezes and travel bans.