Sanctions will remain key part in Biden's US foreign policy strategy in post-Trump era: report

Sanctions will remain key part in Biden's US foreign policy strategy in post-Trump era: report
Biden will not walk away from the use of sanctions as a key foreign policy tool against the US' opponents.
2 min read
16 December, 2020
Biden is expected to ease sanctions on Iran [Getty]
Joe Biden is unlikely to rush into ending sanctions on foreign powers imposed during President Donald Trump's term in office, and instead yield more effective results from the penalties. 

A report by Reuters highlighted there could be a change in strategy when Joe Biden takes office on 20 January, but he will likely take time to consider whether the embargos against countries such as China and Iran should be dropped or remain in place.

"It won't be a pullback or a push forward," a source familiar with Biden's transition team told Reuters.

"It will be a readjustment in the use of the sanctions tool."

The report said that Biden would avoid the "America First bravado" of the Trump administration and focus on a more disciplined sanctions regime.

Among the first sanctions he is likely to lift are those imposed on the International Criminal Court officials by Trump.

But he is also likely to match UK and EU sanctions on Moscow over the poisoning of Vladimir Putin opponent Alexei Navalny by suspected Russian operatives.

There were around 3,800 new sanctions issued against individuals and entities by Donald Trump's administration, a significant increase from the 2,320 implemented during Barack Obama's second term in office.

There is likely to be a decrease in the number of sanctions implemented by Biden, according to the report.

"Sanctions are not a silver bullet," Hagar Hajjar Chemali, sanctions officer under Obama, told the agency.

"They need to be deployed as part of a broader strategy, and this is what has often been lacking with the Trump administration."

Adewale Adeyemo, the incoming number two official at Treasury, is likely to lead Biden's sanctions policy, who promised last month to be "laser-focused" on national security.

Adeyemo pledged to use "our sanctions regime to hold bad actors accountable".

Robert Malley, who served as an Iran adviser to Obama and also "informally advised" the Biden campaign told the agency that "there's a rush of actions as this administration heads toward the exits… to cause more economic pain, set back Iran's nuclear programme and complicate Biden’s path forward".

Iran has been a particular focus of Trump's sanctions strategy, after pulling the US out of a nuclear agreement with Tehran in 2018.

It will also be one of the key foreign policy issues for the Biden administration, after the Democrat pledged to re-enter the nuclear deal.

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