The US maintains 31 states of emergency concerning different nations and issues, granting the chief executive extremely wide-ranging powers, but none has persisted for longer than that against the Islamic Republic of Iran, which shrugged off a US-backed dictator 42 years ago.
On Friday, US President Joe Biden extended the state of emergency with respect to Iran, put in place by US President Jimmy Carter in 1979 during Iran’s Islamic Revolution.
According to a separate Friday letter sent to Senate President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Biden technically extended a 1995 emergency declaration, which prohibited investment in Iranian oil companies or in Iran’s petroleum deposits. However, such a state of emergency has existed since 1979, when the Iranian Revolution overthrew Mohammed Reza Shah, the pro-Western monarch whose rule the US and UK had secured against a populist movement led by Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq 26 years earlier.
The move comes amid an ongoing crisis over the United States’ possible return to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an eight-party deal in which Iran agreed to strict limits on its uranium refining in exchange for the lowering of international sanctions against its economy. In 2018, the US unilaterally pulled out, with then-US President Donald Trump claiming Iran had violated the deal – something no other party to the deal agreed with and did not follow Trump’s cutting off of trade and return of sanctions.
It also comes in the wake of a US airstrike on a military depot in eastern Syria last month that US intelligence claimed was operated by Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada. The militias are part of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces, a collection of militias that formed the backbone of Iraq and Iran’s fight against Daesh, but which Washington has claimed now operate as “Iranian proxies.”
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