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Trump Sets Stage for Iran Sanctions | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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President-elect Donald Trump waves to the media from the steps at the clubhouse of Trump National Golf Club November 20, 2016 in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Washington- U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s term in office will likely be the most difficult for Tehran amid a report that his transition team is examining proposals for sanctions on Iran separate from its nuclear program.

The Financial Times quoted congressional sources as saying that transition officials have begun sounding out Republicans in Congress about the options for sanctions that might not technically breach the 2015 nuclear deal.

They could include measures that focus on Iran’s ballistic missile program or its human rights record, the sources said.

Although the Trump team is a long way from deciding how it will approach the nuclear deal, its Iran policy work is being led by an expert on sanctions legislation, said the newspaper.

“They are already looking closely at their options — and that very much includes non-nuclear sanctions,” said one congressional official who has been in touch with the transition team.

According to the Financial Times, Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee and a candidate to be Trump’s secretary of state, introduced a bill this year to impose sanctions on more officials involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina, has said he would introduce a bill that applies sanctions on sectors of the economy connected to the missile program. Kevin McCarthy, House majority leader, has put forward three bills that would add new sanctions on Iran, the report said.

Some of these proposed bills might also win support from senior Democrats. Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate minority leader, and Ben Cardin, the leading Democrat on the Senate foreign relations committee, opposed the 2015 Iran deal.

During his election campaign, Trump described the nuclear agreement as the “worst deal ever negotiated” and alternated between saying he would tear it up and that he would renegotiate it.

Meanwhile, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said he expected the Trump administration and the new Congress to “undertake a total review of our overall Iran policy.”

“Given Iran’s continued pattern of aggression and the country’s persistent efforts to expand its sphere of influence across the region, preserving these sanctions is critical,” he added.

Republicans have been arguing for new sanctions on Iran — not for its nuclear activities, but over human rights violations, terrorism and the support of the so-called Hezbollah.