The future of US sanctions policy has become more uncertain following Donald Trump’s election as President. The President-elect has repeatedly and strongly criticised the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran and, although he has conceded the difficulty in revoking a deal supported by a UN resolution, he has made mixed statements as to whether he would look to amend it or introduce new sanctions against Iran.
Trump has also taken a consistently softer line on Russia than the current US administration. A conciliatory approach to Russia may set Trump at odds with Congress, where there is bipartisan support for continuing the sanctions that were imposed in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea until it complies with its obligations under the Minsk agreement, as well as the Magnitsky Act (see previous blog). One possible area in which the Trump administration and a Republican controlled Congress may find agreement is on the easing of sanctions that are negatively affecting US businesses, such as restrictions relating to the Russian oil sector.
Recently Trump has also reversed his position on Cuba. Having previously supported the White House’s policy of normalising relations with Cuba after 5 decades of sanctions, he has now stated that he would reverse President Obama’s executive orders on Cuba, unless the Castro regime meets his demands.