The majority of Americans who took part in a TIPP Poll conducted in late May believe sanctions play a key role in inducing Iran to toe the line.
- 58% - The U.S. should maintain or increase sanctions to force Iran to renegotiate an acceptable nuclear deal
- 31% - The U.S. should return to the original 2015 nuclear deal
- 11% - Not sure
Americans are clear on their views regarding sanctions against Iran. However, recent developments pose a question as to how the administration views this measure.
Recent Developments - Sanctions
The U.S. administration announced the lifting of some sanctions on Iran last week. Per reports, sanctions have been lifted on several energy companies involved in shipping and trading petrochemical products and three former Iranian officials.
The government claims the easing of restrictions as “routine administrative action.” The stalled negotiations on reviving and restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal are set to resume in Vienna shortly.
The State Department spokesman reiterated that the actions have “absolutely no connection” with the Vienna talks. Still, some analysts see this as “an act of good faith,” giving some impetus to bring Tehran to the negotiation table.
Meanwhile, another troubling development caught international media attention. It is widely speculated that Iran navy ships making their way to the Atlantic may be carrying arms to Venezuela. Trump administration had warned the Maduro government to abandon plans to buy weapons from Iran.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on the matter, “I am absolutely concerned about the proliferation of weapons, any type of weapons, in our neighborhood.”
Over the past decades, Iran and Venezuela have developed relations, primarily to counter sanctions imposed on them by the U.S. However, such bilateral cooperation between American foes to seek relief from U.S. measures could threaten the country and its interests abroad.
With the sixth round of Vienna talks set to start soon, issues relating to Iran have been on the Americans’ radar.
Of the survey respondents, almost half, 45% said they closely follow the nuclear talks with Iran, with 17% of them following the issue “very closely.”
Tehran’s actions and its deepening ties with Venezuela highlight the complexity of the situation. While the administration will ponder all options and angles, TIPP Poll further probed 45% of Americans keenly interested and following the developments.
On the hostage issue, given two options, the survey respondents chose -
- 54% - U.S. should demand the release of all Americans held hostage in Iran before giving Iran any sanctions relief, even if it means Iran won’t agree to limit its nuclear program
- 32% - Sanctions should be lifted without freeing American hostages, if Iran agrees to limit its nuclear program
- 14% - Not sure.
On terrorism and nuclear sanctions, given two options, the respondents picked –
- 52% - The U.S. should maintain terrorism sanctions on Iran irrespective of the outcome of the nuclear talks
- 37% - The U.S. should lift both nuclear sanctions and terrorism sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on Iran's nuclear program
- 11% - Not sure
Among Democrats, 51% favored lifting both nuclear sanctions and terrorism sanctions on the country if Iran limited its nuclear program. The measure found favor with only 21% Republicans.
Meanwhile, 68% of Republicans opted to maintain terrorism sanctions on Iran irrespective of the outcome of the nuclear talks, while only 38% of Democrats support the move.
So far, President Biden’s ratings on his handling of Iran are almost equally split. The survey reads -
- Good (A or B) - 33%
- Average (C) – 20%
- Poor (D or F) - 33%
- Not sure – 14%
As expected, the ratings reflect political affiliations –
- 54% - good
- 11% - poor
- 17% - good
- 64% - poor
Like all matters of foreign policy, political leanings and ideology influence actions and perspectives. With the nuclear negotiations drawing on, there will be keen interest in how the Biden administration handles Iran’s baiting.
Iran's elections will take place at the end of this week, and the results may add a new dynamic to the ongoing talks.
- Benjamin Netanyahu has lost his 12-year hold on power in Israel after its parliament voted in a new coalition government.
- Right-wing nationalist Naftali Bennett has been sworn in as prime minister, leading a "government of change." He will lead an unprecedented coalition of parties which was approved with a razor-thin majority of 60-59.
- Mr. Bennett will be prime minister until September 2023 as part of a power-sharing deal.
- He will then hand power over to Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid, for a further two years.
- Mr. Netanyahu - Israel's longest-serving leader who has dominated its political landscape for years - will remain head of the right-wing Likud party and become the leader of the opposition.
- Opposition to Mr. Netanyahu staying in power had grown, not just among the left and center but also among right-wing parties that are ordinarily ideologically aligned to Likud, including Yamina.
- China passed a law to counter foreign sanctions, responding to growing pressure from the United States and the European Union on trade and human rights.
- Beijing has accused the U.S. of "cracking down" on Chinese companies and threatened retaliation after President Biden last week expanded a blacklist of foreign companies in which Americans are barred from investing in the name of national security.
- The countermeasures in the Chinese law include "denial of visas, entry or expulsion... and sealing up, seizing and freezing assets of persons or enterprises that adhere to foreign sanctions against Chinese enterprises or officials."
- China's Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law also allows the country's courts to punish companies for complying with foreign laws that infringe on national interests, thus putting multinationals that comply with the U.S. sanctions at risk.
- In addition, the law states that companies or individuals in China do not need to comply with foreign restrictions.
- Candidates spent more time discussing Iran’s nuclear deal in the third debate, as another round to restore accord begins in Vienna.
- The seven men – five conservatives and hardliners, a moderate and a reformist – leveraged the slightly improved “debate” format to speak more directly and at length about the corruption and misguided management that they believe has led the country astray.
- The upcoming elections are expected to be characterized by low turnout amid public disillusionment. Some polls put turnout below 40 percent, which would be the lowest since the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
- The much-criticized debates are also unlikely to generate much public excitement as polls suggest less than four in 10 Iranians watched the previous two.
- PLA has rotated troops; built fresh infrastructure and hospitals in the area.
- In the first combat fatalities in 45 years, 20 Indian soldiers were killed in the violent clash after they were attacked by Chinese troops in the Galwan Valley on the night of June 15, 2020, during a “de-escalation” process after a month-long stand-off between the troops at several points in eastern Ladakh and Sikkim.
- China, which initially did not reveal its casualty numbers, later said four of its soldiers had been killed.
- India and China have so far held 11 rounds of military talks for disengagement and de-escalation in eastern Ladakh since the stand-off began in early May 2020. Defense officials said there was no clarity yet on when the next round of talks would be held.
- The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has built additional accommodation in the depth areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on its side and is preparing for the long haul, official sources said.
- The Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson recently said the process of disengagement along the LAC “remains unfinished.” Early completion of disengagement could lead to a de-escalation of forces which would “hopefully” lead to full restoration of peace and tranquillity in the border areas.
- Megha Rajagopalan, an Indian-origin journalist, has won the Pulitzer Prize for her innovative investigative reports using satellite technology that exposed China's mass detention camps for Muslim Uighurs and other minority ethnicities. Link to the original story here.
- The Pulitzer Board announced the award in the international reporting category, which she shared with two colleagues from BuzzFeed News, on Friday.
- Neil Bedi, another Indian-origin journalist, won a Pulitzer in the local reporting category for investigative stories he co-wrote with an editor at the Tampa Bay Times exposing a law enforcement official's abuse of authority in Florida to track children.
- Darnella Frazier, a teenaged non-journalist, was awarded a Pulitzer Special Citation for her bravery in filming the killing of George Floyd, an African-American who died in police custody in Minneapolis last year, in recognition of the proliferation of citizen journalism in the internet age.
- The Pulitzer Board awarded Bedi and Kathleen McGrory for exposing "how a powerful and politically connected sheriff built a secretive intelligence operation that harassed residents and used grades and child welfare records to profile schoolchildren."
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