Today, President Trump is required by law to announce whether he will continue to waive sanctions on Tehran, in accordance with the 2015 nuclear agreement (the JCPOA), or to reinstate them, thus effectively torpedoing the agreement. Regardless of what he decides, write Richard Goldberg and Dennis Ross, there is much the U.S. can do to pressure the Islamic Republic and help Iranian dissidents even while abiding by the terms of the deal. They urge the president and Congress to follow the example of Ronald Reagan, who never let arms-control negotiations get in the way of supporting dissidents in the Soviet Union or its satellites:
The Iranian protesters are making a statement and we should not ignore it. The president would be well within his rights even under the JCPOA and international law to follow Reagan’s example and answer them with action. Just as the Iranian regime feels free to spread its power and reach within the region notwithstanding the JCPOA, so should the United States and Europe feel free to impose sanctions tied to human rights, terror, and missiles notwithstanding the same.
The sanctions relief provided under the JCPOA should not be interpreted as blanket immunity for Iranian officials, banks, and other government instrumentalities to expand their illicit activities. If such a person or entity is found to be connected to the Revolutionary Guard, terrorism, missile proliferation, or human-rights abuses, it most certainly can and should be subject to sanctions—even if sanctions for that person or entity were initially suspended by the JCPOA. . . .
Silence is not an option, nor is keeping money flowing to regime officials [who] suppress the basic rights of the Iranian people. Those managing the Iranian economy and those financial institutions in Iran that seek to do business with the international community should know they will pay a price for engaging in illicit behavior.