The Trump administration, in coordination with Israel and several Gulf states, is pushing a plan to slap a long string of new sanctions on Iran in the 10 weeks left until Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, two Israeli sources briefed on the effort told Barak Ravid of Axios on Sunday.
According to the report, the Trump administration’s envoy for Iran, Elliott Abrams, arrived in Israel on Sunday and met Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and National Security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat to discuss the sanctions plan.
Abrams will meet on Monday with Minister of Defense Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to brief them on the plan.
Abrams did not respond to a request for comment.
The Israeli sources told Ravid that the Trump administration believes such a “flood” of sanctions will increase pressure on the Iranians and make it harder for the Biden administration to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
In the last several weeks, the Trump administration — with the encouragement and assistance of part of the Israeli diplomatic and security establishment — has prepared a “target bank” of Iranian entities that will be sanctioned, according to Axios.
Abrams said in a closed briefing several days ago that the Trump administration wants to announce a new set of sanctions on Iran every week until January 20, a source who was privy to the briefing told Ravid.
The Israeli sources said the planned sanctions are not connected to the Iranian nuclear program — such sanctions are more likely to be canceled by a Biden administration and open the door to reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.
Instead, the goal is to impose sanctions on Iran that are connected to its ballistic missile program, Iranian assistance to terror organizations and Iranian human rights violations.
“The goal is to slap as many sanctions as possible on Iran until January 20," an Israeli source briefed on the plan said.
Abrams will travel from Israel to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh to discuss the sanctions plan. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are the two main allies the Trump administration and the Israeli government have against Iran, and both are very concerned by the Biden administration's future Iran policy.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is arriving in Israel on November 18, Israeli and US officials told Ravid. Pompeo will likely visit other countries in the region as well. His trip is also going to focus on the Trump administration’s last-ditch effort to increase pressure on Iran.
The Trump administration has regularly enforced sanctions on Iran since 2018, when it withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, but has ramped up the sanctions in recent weeks, when its efforts to extend a UN arms embargo on Iran did not succeed.
Iran appears to have been emboldened by the victory of Joe Biden in the US presidential election. The country’s first vice president, Eshaq Jahangiri, said on Saturday he hoped for a change in “destructive US policies” after Biden captured the US presidency.
Biden has pledged to reverse Trump’s decision and rejoin the 2015 deal if Iran returns to compliance with it.