A front-page article in Kayhan newspaper, entitled “The Mother of All Sanctions Has Arrived,” warns that the implementation of the “Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” – a congressional bill that President Trump signed into law in August – will severely harm the Iranian economy. “Because this law includes the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in the list of terrorist organizations, it will have a great deal of economic implications for Iran,” the hardline paper wrote, adding that Iran’s banking relations with the outside world will sink to their nadir. 

According to Kayhan, no major international banks have offered to restore businesses transactions with Iran after the 2015 nuclear deal because about 200 Iranian individuals and entities are included in the U.S. Specially Designated Nationals And Blocked Persons List (S.D.N.). “These banks feared they would violate America’s sanctions laws and face American financial penalties. Only small banks were ready to take risks and cooperated. But even these small banks expressed a lot of concerns about not breaching [U.S.] sanctions laws. Let us assume that thousands of Iranian individuals and institutions are sanctioned, it is natural that even small banks will not cooperate with Iran at that time.” 

The article also compares the new sanctions as a “black hole” which would not just target the I.R.G.C. but its gravity will impact all Iranian government and non-government entities, including the Central Bank of Iran. “The reality is that with the approval of this bill, there will not be any JCPOA,” it added, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the nuclear deal.

According to Kayhan, the U.S. government pursues two goals with new sanctions: to deter foreign companies and banks from doing business with Iran; and to increase its leverage and seek concessions from Iran in non-nuclear issues. 

Kayhan sharply criticized the Rouhani government for acting “passively” and emboldening Washington to increase economic pressure on the Islamic Republic. The paper also stressed that Tehran must not trust European powers and bank on their support to isolate Washington.

Comment: After Trump delivered a strong anti-Iran speech at the U.N. Generaly Assembly in September and subsequently decertified the Iran nuclear deal, Iranian hardliners and pragmatists voiced unity to counter U.S. “hostile” policies. But as Washington is consistently increasing sanctions on Iran, the temporary unity has evaporated and hardliners are pressuring Rouhani to take a tougher line vis-à-vis America and the implementation of the nuclear accord.

The CAASTA, which Congress passed almost unanimously and Trump signed into law, directs the president to impose sanctions against Iran’s missile and WMD programs as well as on the I.R.G.C. and its affiliates. While the Department of Treasury this month blacklisted the entire I.R.G.C., the State Department has yet to designate the I.R.G.C. as a Foreign Terrorist Organization – a move that would carry more political, legal and economic implications for Iran.