US Iran sanctions

On 21 August, the United States lost a bid to reimpose international sanctions on Iran after being outvoted 13-2 at the UN Security Council. Washington claimed Iran breached the 2015 nuclear deal that aimed to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons in return for sanction relief. The nations that opposed the US bid – specifically the United Kingdom, Germany, and France – submitted letters to the council claiming the US has no power to enforce a deal it backed out of in 2018. After the veto, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a 30-day countdown to reinstate the sanctions saying the US “doesn’t need permission” to continue sanctions because the 2015 draft of the nuclear resolution still lists the US as a participant. Pompeo also issued warnings to Russia and China of “US action” if they refuse to reinstate the sanctions within the given 30 days. Within 24 hours of Pompeo starting the ‘snapback’ process, 13 nations had submitted letters of opposition to the council. Only the Dominican Republic voted in accordance with the US to continue the sanctions.

From a Christian perspective, the sanctions imposed on Iran have crippled the Iranian economy in recent years causing inflation to increase to 37% and resulting in food and resource shortages throughout the country. In a letter to the Pope, Iranian cleric Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad Ahmadabadi pleaded for the Vatican’s help in ending the sanctions. The Vatican addressed the use of economic sanctions in its ‘Social Doctrine of the Church’, saying while economic sanctions are not inherently immoral, they should be held to ethical standards that include not having a severe effect on average citizens. The Vatican responded to the letter by passing on Ahmadabadi’s concerns to the US ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft. It is important to note, however, that there has been a pattern emerging between the economic state of Iran and the growth of the Christian Church. According to an INcontext contact in Iran, when sanctions have resulted in worsening living conditions, there has been a steady rise in Iranians turning to Christ. When sanctions have been lifted and the economy improves, the opposite has been observed – Church growth tends to decline during periods of prosperity.

Pray with us for the following:

  • For wisdom as international leaders engage with Iran
  • For continued Church growth, whether in times of economic stability or when under pressure
  • For the Church to be a place of hope and aid, both physically and spiritually



Image: REUTERS/Mike Segar