In January 2016 we’ve witnessed a partial withdrawal of sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran. It should be noted that the introduction of those was linked to Iran’s nuclear program, which worried the United States and its allies, therefore Western countries were behind the introduction of sanctions that were aimed at applying pressure on Iran back in 1970s. In July 2015, after lengthy negotiations a compromise was reached: Iran and the group of six (the five permanent UN Security Council members – Britain, China, Russia, USA and France along with Germany) have signed an agreement establishing a gradual withdrawal of all sanctions. Under this agreement, Iran would provide access to its nuclear facilities to IAEA experts so that they could ensure that the nuclear energy is only being used for peaceful purposes. The agreement was soon labelled a diplomatic breakthrough, and it was believed that it would put an end to the growing tension in the region. However, by the end of 2016 the situation started deteriorating again.
At first everything went according to the plan. In January 2016 the United Nations and the European Union lifted the sanctions regime against Iran, while the US trade embargo and restrictions on US citizens traveling to Tehran remained in place. Nevertheless, Iran began to rapidly rebuild the old political and economic ties.
In August 2016 the United States accused Tehran that it was secretly supporting the rebels in Yemen, while providing them with modern missiles systems. According to Washington, this step allegedly threatened the stability of an entire region. At that point the White House announced that it is considering the possibility of introducing new sanctions against Iran.
Then, on September 3, a new scandal broke out when it was established that Washington has sent 400 million dollars to Tehran in cash on the same day a number of American prisoners got released from Iranian prisons. At that point Washington was accused of violating the US principle to never pay ransoms for hostages. In return, President Barack Obama declared that this sum was transferred to Iran as part of the debt that the US was forced to pay due to the decision of the Hague Tribunal. Nevertheless, on September 23, 2016 the US Congress adopted a bill prohibiting the US government to make any cash transfers to the states that are allegedly suspected of sponsoring terrorism.