U.S. "Maximum Pressure" Campaign on Iran

State Department sealOn April 2, the State Department released a fact sheet on U.S. efforts to place “maximum economic pressure” on Iran. Since 2017, the Trump administration has sought to negotiate a new nuclear deal that would also address the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program, support for extremist groups, and threats against its neighbors and U.S. allies. President Trump had criticized the 2015 nuclear deal – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – for dealing with the nuclear issue in isolation from Iran’s regional activities. The United States withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018. The following is the full text of the fact sheet. 


  • The U.S. sanctions have cut off Iran’s access to billions of dollars in oil revenue and are driving its exports lower than ever before. Since last May, 1.5 million barrels of Iranian crude have been taken off the market and purchases of Iranian crude will soon be at zero.
  • Starting with the re-imposition of our sanctions on November 5, 2018, Iran’s access to revenue from the sale of crude oil was immediately restricted. Overall, our sanctions have denied the regime direct access to as much as $10 billion in oil revenue since May 2018.
  • More than 20 countries that were once regular oil customers of Iran have zeroed out their imports. Three jurisdictions that were granted waivers in November are already at zero.
  • The Trump Administration has designated over 970 Iranian entities and individuals in more than 26 rounds of sanctions – more than any other Administration in U.S. history. 

• Just last week a vast network of front companies based in Iran, the UAE, and Turkey was sanctioned for procuring and transferring more than a billion dollars and euros to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. 
• We have designated Evin Prison, where the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps maintain permanent wards to hold political prisoners, and subject prisoners to brutal tactics. 
• In response to ongoing censorship activities by the regime, we have designated the IRGC’s Electronic Warfare and Cyber Defense Organization, Iran’s Supreme Council for Cyberspace and the National Cyberspace Center. 
• We have also sanctioned more than 70 Iran-linked financial institutions and their foreign and domestic subsidiaries. SWIFT has disconnected every sanctioned Iranian bank from its system and even disconnected the Central Bank of Iran.

  • More than 100 corporations like Total and Siemens have exited the Iranian market, taking with them billions of dollars in investment.
  • The Iranian economy is in a tailspin because of the regime’s poor policies, its continued commitment to terrorism, and our targeted pressure. The rial has lost two-thirds of its value, reports indicate Iran is in a recession, and inflation has hit a record 40 percent. Iran’s total trade has declined by nearly 25 percent since March 2018.



  • Europe has pushed back against Iranian terror activity. After a foiled bomb plot in Paris and a thwarted assassination plan in Denmark last year, the European Union in January sanctioned Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security and two of its agents for their roles.
  • Countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Albania, and Serbia, have acted on their own to address the threat of Iranian terrorism, whether by recalling Ambassadors, expelling Iranian diplomats, denying landing rights to Mahan Air, or eliminating visa-free travel. 

• Germany recently announced its decision to deny Mahan Air landing rights. 
• Panama issued a Presidential Decree to pull registration and de-flag Iranian vessels following the United States’ exposure of an oil-for-terror network. 
• Albania expelled Iran’s Ambassador to Tirana and another Iranian diplomat for involvement in thwarted terrorist plots. 

  • The United States, along with the UK, France, and Germany, continue to hold Iran accountable for defying its international obligations. Our countries expressed strong concern to the UN Secretary General following Iran’s launch of a medium range ballistic missile in December and its attempted satellite launches in January and February. These launches and others defy UN Security Council Resolution 2231. 
  • The EU Foreign Affairs Council’s conclusions in February underscored its concern regarding Iran’s ballistic missile program, support of terrorism in Europe, human rights conditions in Iran, and the regime’s ongoing role in regional conflicts.


  • We have exposed the lethal aid that Iran is sending to militants in Yemen, Bahrain, and Afghanistan; including ballistic missiles, attack UAVs, and explosive boats. Representatives of over 70 countries toured the Iran Materiel Display, seeing clear and tangible evidence that Iran is sending weapons to its militant partners, which were used to attack international shipping and civilian infrastructure in the Gulf
  • We are continuing to disrupt the Qods Force’s illicit shipments of oil, which benefit terrorist groups like Hizballah as well as the Assad regime. More than 75 tankers involved in illicit shipping schemes have been denied the flags they need to sail.
  • The United States continues to build the partner capacities of several regional nations to defend themselves against the threats posed by Iran.