WASHINGTON – Joe Biden will not hesitate to use President Donald Trump’s weapon – sanctions – as he seeks to restructure US foreign policy, according to people familiar with his thinking.
But when Biden takes office on January 20, he is expected to immediately begin calculating Trump’s strong approach while taking the time to consult before making any major changes with the highest sanctions aimed at Iran and China, sources said.
His challenge will be to determine what sanctions should be imposed, what should be done and what will be extended. This comes four years after Trump imposed sanctions on the economy with a common record – often inconsistent – but failed to turn American rivals into his will.
The revised plan will be developed with the help of a comprehensive review of sanctions plans that will begin shortly after the opening of Biden, sources said on condition of anonymity.
But even before the tests are completed, Bididen is expected to make it clear that sanctions will remain a key element of U.S. power. – although it will no longer be distributed with the courage of “America First” which has pushed Trump’s foreign policy.
“It will not be a retreat or a push,” said one person close to Biden’s revolutionary party. “The use of the sanction tool will be rectified.”
Among the first opportunities, according to two sources, could be the lifting of sanctions imposed by Trump in September on officials at the International Criminal Court over its investigation into U.S. military offenses in Afghanistan, an act condemned by European allies.
Biden could also liken the British and European Union sanctions against Russia for poisoning Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, one source said. Moscow has denied any involvement.
The Biden team had no official comment.
KEEPING NEW PLANTS
Adding to Biden’s challenges, Trump has continued to beat the drum of sanctions on turbulent days, with the end of his administration. He has put steps that would make it difficult for his successor to return to the nuclear deal with Iran and to quickly build cooperation with China after Communist Party officials were shown the way.
Since taking office, Trump has used sanctions as his way of responding to international crises ranging from the actions of Iranian troops to the North Korean nuclear cart to Venezuela’s political crisis.
Trump executives imposed about 3,800 new “names” compared to 2,350 in the second term of President Barack Obama, while approving a very minor removal, which is how Washington rewards those who change their behavior, according to figures compiled by the Center for a New American Safety Thought Tank .
At the same time, his superiors have called for the imposition of visa bans in the US, hit more than 200 foreign officials with less-used travel sanctions before Trump, and significantly increased the use of so-called second sanctions punishing friends and enemies.
While Biden is expected to continue the use of these coercive measures, there will be changes, including deliberate decision-making and close communication with partners, sources said.
“The sanctions are not a silver coin,” said Hagar Hajjar Chemali, who served as a penalty under Obama. “They need to be included as part of a broader plan, and this is what has always been lacking in Trump’s administration.”
Trump officials insist that this flexibility in the U.S. economic muscle. It has caused a great deal of damage to some of America’s most powerful enemies in Biden.
But those governments are showing no signs of approving Trump’s demands.
Iran, despite Trump lifting U.S. sanctions, has refused to renew negotiations with the nuclear deal. Venezuelan social development president Nicolas Maduro has rejected efforts to oust him. North Korea continues to build its own nuclear weapons.
And China is also unaffected by the proliferation of technical sanctions, Hong Kong, the South China Sea and attacks on minority Islamists.
Some critics have questioned Trump’s extension of individual sanctions, the inclusion of blacks in foreign officials with sanctions and restrictions on Americans doing business with them. Such a move may work if the intentions are rich or invested in the United States but are mostly symbolic if not.
Biden’s aides are concerned that overuse of sanctions could be reversed, especially if it encourages other countries to develop measures to curb U.S.-dominated financial networks.
However, Bidony’s election of Antony Blinken as secretary of state and Jake Sullivan as national security adviser suggests that while he will be a multi-country sanctioner, there will be no major compromise.
Adewale Adeyemo, the second-highest-ranking official in the Treasury Department, promised this month that he would “focus on the laser” in national security, including “using our sanctions to hold accountable perpetrators accountable.” He will lead Biden’s sentencing trial, several sources said.
Iran could be a major issue in Biden’s sanctions.
He said he would return to the nuclear deal – which Trump left in 2018 despite opposition from European partners – if Iran continues to follow suit. Iran has placed a burden on the new administration to take the initiative and may seek consensus.
While it will be difficult for Biden to impose significant sanctions on Iran at any time in the near future, he could create an opportunity to re-engage by reducing Iran’s access to aid supplies in the midst of the coronavirus, according to a person close to his party.
Penalties as part of Trump’s “big pressure” campaign have reduced OPEC’s national income and disabled foreign trade. Iran has been hurt by being frozen in the U.S. financial system. Many countries and companies have fled due to concerns that they themselves will be prosecuted for doing business with Tehran.
However, Trump has continued to push for new human rights measures in Tehran, with the development of arrows and military support that will make it politically difficult for Biden to be released.
“There is a great deal of urgency as this regime looks to the exit… to create more economic ills, to reverse Iran’s nuclear program and to make Biden’s move forward,” said Robert Malley, a former Iranian adviser to Iran and a casual adviser to Biden’s party.
But Trump officials argue that they are actually doing Biden a favor by putting Iran under so much economic pressure that it will have no choice but to return to negotiations.
“No, no, no,” Elliott Abrams, Trump’s envoy to Iran and Venezuela, told Reuters when asked if the purpose of tightening Iran’s sanctions was to include Biden. “It strengthens their hand.”
He further stressed that the punishment of Iran and other enemies shows a better way than other methods: “Another use of war. Another sacrifice, go. ”
HUMAN RIGHTS MANAGEMENT
Biden will also face the question of what to do about punishing China, the world’s second-largest economy.
While Trump charged during the election campaign that Biden would sell to Beijing, the president-elect said he would take strong action, especially on human rights.
This could mean further sanctions on Hong Kong, China’s Xinjiang region and possibly Tibet, a person close to the Biden revolutionary group said.
But another Biden adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity, suggested that sanctions could also be used to help pressure China to resolve trade disputes.
Among the challenges for Biden and North Korea will be to remove the confusion over Trump’s policy and tighten sanctions that are aimed at forcing him to donate nuclear weapons.
Trump’s “armaments” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have eased the pressure on international scientists, experts say, although Pyongyang continues to be plagued by economic limitations on access to the global financial system and trade.
Biden called Kim a “criminal,” and advisers predicted a difficult path.
Biden also pointed out possible sanctions against Russia for election interference, and the recently revealed violations of state-owned computers could provide further impetus. He could also work, on an issue Trump has been reluctant to address: a spy test that Russia has provided grants to prosecutors to kill the U.S. and its allied forces in Afghanistan, two sources said.
At home, Biden will face the challenge of fixing government sanctions. Inter-agency interactions are often overlooked during top-downs, and formulate goals via tweet, according to people inside and outside his administration.
This sowed frustration in the State Department and the Treasury, which left it with more experienced staff.
“People are overworked and depleted,” said one former Treasurer’s Office of Foreign Affairs. “So hopefully the process will change for the better.”