US puts 'maximum pressure' on Iran as sanctions resume

AFP  Atta Kenare

AFP Atta Kenare

The move by the White House re-imposes US sanctions that were lifted as part of a 2015 multinational deal with Tehran and impose hundreds of additional sanctions created to hit Iran's key economic sectors - including oil and gas, shipping and banking. "Sanctions waivers being given to key purchasers of Iranian oil, most alarmingly China, give Iran a financial reprieve, and should be eliminated as soon as possible". "We are intent on making sure the Iranian regime stops siphoning its hard currency reserves into corrupt investments and the hands of terrorists".

Pompeo emphasized how increased US sanctions on Iran leading up to today's announcement had ensured "that Iran is not able to increase its revenue from oil as its exports plummet", while keeping prices stable for the American consumer.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the penalties set to return on Monday "are the toughest sanctions ever put in place on the Islamic Republic of Iran".

Iran greeted the re-imposition of USA sanctions on Monday with air defence drills and a statement from President Hassan Rouhani that the nation faces a "war situation", raising Mideast tensions as America's maximalist approach to the Islamic Republic takes hold.

"We are in a situation of economic war, confronting a bullying power".

Among the targets are 92 entities owned or controlled by Ghadir Investment Company, which the USA government had previously identified as an investment firm with ties to the Execution of Iman Khomeini's Order, a state-owned enterprise under direct control of Iran's Supreme Leader. "That's who really understand the importance and the impact of the effort that we're undertaking". "Until then, our historic sanctions will remain in full force", he said.

One user tweeted in English: "Over the past 40 years, the Islamic regime of Iran tried to present the United States and Israel as Iran's enemies. The US - and not Iran - is isolated", Zarif said in a tweet.

"So the ultimate objective is to pressure Iran to get back to the table of negotiations as per the terms of US President Donald Trump's administration". The other parties to the deal - Britain, France, Germany, China and Russian Federation - say they will not leave.

Trump has long argued that the 2015 nuclear deal is badly flawed, in part because its provisions would expire in 10 to 15 years and partly because it does not adequately constrain Iran's destabilizing behavior in the region.

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The Democratic Party candidate is hoping to become the country's first black female governor, Deutsche Welle reported . It has a margin of error of two percent. "Unlike President Obama", Trump said, "we live under a different mantra".

In all, 700 Iranian entities were added to sanctions lists on Monday, according to US Treasury chief Steven Mnuchin.

"Under the current circumstances, we hope all parties can bear in mind the larger picture and fulfil their duties and choose to stand on the right side of history", Hua said, adding that China will continue to "uphold the objective and responsible attitude to uphold the agreement".

Diplomats told Reuters last month that a new European Union mechanism to facilitate payments for Iranian oil exports should be legally in place by November 4 but not operational until early next year.

Another said: "America is not our enemy, our enemies have taken us as hostages in our own home [country]".

"U.S. sanctions on Iran proved to be less severe than previously anticipated", said Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at futures brokerage FXTM.

It will hit oil exports, shipping and banks, all core parts of the economy. But Brent crude was steady at $72.83 by 1230 GMT.

Iran's biggest oil buyers in recent years have been China, India, South Korea, Turkey, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Japan.

Al-Shateri said the expected increase in oil prices might offset Iran's loss of oil exports because of the USA sanctions.

The curbs come as the United States is focused on USA congressional and gubernatorial elections on Tuesday.

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