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Secretary Pompeo has recently announced some more sanctions on Iranian Astan Qods foundation. It seems that Biden wants to return to JCPOA and he should remove sanctions to be able to negotiate with Islamic Republic.

My questions:

  • Given that both chambers are blue, can Biden remove all sanctions as soon as he enters the White House?
  • If so, what's the point of imposing such late sanctions by Trump administration, when they won't last long?
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Executive actions can be changed by Biden without consulting Congress. So, for example the restrictions on travel from mainly Muslim countries was done by executive order. This order can be reversed on Jan 20th.

Legislation passed in the last four years can't be repealed except by Congress, and repeal bills can be filibustered in the Senate.

So, for example the Defense Appropriation bill contains a clause

Imposition of Sanctions.--Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall impose five or more of the sanctions described in section 235 of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (22 U.S.C. 9529) with respect to each person that knowingly engaged in the acquisition of the S-400 air defense system referred to in subsection (b).

The President (whoever that may be) can't remove that requirement for sanctions against Turkey and there is a minimum time of 1 year before the sanctions can be removed. It can be changed by repeal (however unlikely that may be).

While the President can change an executive order, he/she can't always reverse the effects of that order. If the President had ordered a forest to be cut down, reversing the order won't make the trees grow back! Reversing the sanctions on Iran won't immediately restore trust in the USA by the Iranian government.

In the case of Iran, there are more than one sanctions regime in operation. Removing Trumps sanctions won't remove all sanctions from Iran, many of which date back to 1979.

The point is to send a message. It also forces action from Biden, which can be a route to attack him in the future. It is easier to find fault in actions than in inactions.

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  • "trust in the USA in the Iranian government"? Surely you're joking? Would have been a good answer if not for that. – jamesqf Jan 17 at 18:39
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    I'm not allowed to use irony now? – James K Jan 17 at 18:42
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    "Reversing the sanctions on Iran won't immediately restore trust in the USA in the Iranian government." Replace one of the "in"s with "by" to reduce ambiguity?? You pick which one... – DJohnM Jan 17 at 19:24
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    @James K: Only if you somehow indicate that you are doing so, otherwise some of us are likely to take statements at face value :-) – jamesqf Jan 18 at 2:07

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