Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump teased his 55 million Twitter followers about his latest action against Iran in the style of a Hollywood movie poster - a picture of him with the words: Sanctions are Coming.

The United States has reimposed oil and financial sanctions against Iran, significantly turning up the pressure on Tehran in order to curb its alleged missile and nuclear programmes.

Iran has held the position of the bad guy in American media and American foreign policy for at least four decades.

Narges Bajoghli, assistant professor, John Hopkins University

Back in 2015, when former President Barack Obama signed the multilateral nuclear deal designed to monitor and limit Iran's nuclear programme, few would have predicted that his successor would not only pull out of the agreement but re-impose sanctions.

The Trump administration says it wants to force Iran back to the negotiating table. But given the severity of the sanctions, the list of conditions from the US and the tone of the Trumpian rhetoric - the question becomes: is the White House is really looking to create a dialogue or a confrontation?

"Most Americans don't know anything about Iran," explains Barbara Slavin, director, Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council. "They know about the hostage crisis. Maybe they know about 'Death to America' and 'Death to Israel' which are slogans that are chanted regularly and so they are predisposed to believe that Iran is a very bad country. But I question whether hyping Iran's abuses is going to really get you into a better place. I think it just makes it harder to reach compromises in the future."

Some of the 12 conditions the Trump administration has attached to the lifting of sanctions such as Iran ending its ballistic missile programme, and not just missiles built to carry nuclear payloads, are hardly the basis for productive negotiations.

Washington says its goal in Iran is not regime change, or to hurt ordinary Iranians. It just wants the regime to change its behaviour. But the administration's talking points, its stated attempts to get Iran back to the negotiating table, after abandoning a nuclear deal reached at that same table - simply don't add up.

"That is as ridiculous and as preposterous a statement as it can come," points out Trita Parsi, founder of the National American Iranian Council. "Sanctions, particularly such broad-based sanctions, always hurt the population first."

"Reality is the Iranians are at the negotiating table ... the only party that is not at the negotiating table is the Trump administration," says Parsi.

Iran's compliance with the 2015 agreement has actually strengthened its position on the world stage, according to Mohammad Ali Shabani, the Iran Pulse editor at Al-Monitor.

"Iran's message has been to say to the world that, 'We're responsible. Even though the other side has abrogated its commitments, we're going to keep our word, as long as we get the benefits promised to us by the nuclear deal.' And I think that goes down well with the Iranian people. They're saying that, ok, for the first time in a long while, we can tell the world, 'we're not rogues. It's the US which is the rogue regime here, not us'."

Contributors

Mohammad Ali Shabani - Iran Pulse editor at Al-Monitor

Trita Parsi - founder, National American Iranian Council

Narges Bajoghli - assistant professor, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

Barbara Slavin - director, Future of Iran Initiative, Atlantic Council

Source: Al Jazeera News