Trump administration to reimpose sanctions on Iran
Xeber24.net _ The Guardian
US officials say Washington to make the move next week, reversing Obama-era decision
Senior US officials have warned that Washington will next week reimpose all sanctions on Iran that were lifted by the Obama administration after the 2015 nuclear agreement.
Donald Trump, since breaking that deal in May, has vowed to cut off Iranian oil revenue completely, and oil exporters and tankers will be among 700 companies, individuals, vessels and aircraft that will be added to a US sanctions blacklist on Monday.
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said that eight “jurisdictions” would be granted temporary waivers after Monday’s sanctions deadline, but only on the understanding that they would stop or drastically reduce oil imports in the coming weeks.
Pompeo did not name the countries to be exempted, except to say that the European Union was not among them. He did not say whether individual European countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain might be granted waivers.
Money from sales to the exempted countries would be kept in accounts outside Iran, and could only be spent on humanitarian supplies or approved goods.
A joint statement from the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and the foreign and finance ministers of the UK, France and Germany said it deeply regretted the re-imposition of US sanctions.
“We have committed to work on … the preservation and maintenance of effective financial channels with Iran, and the continuation of Iran’s export of oil and gas,” it said.
Mahmoud Sadeghi, an Iranian politician, said the move would further unite the Iranian nation against the threat of Trump’s “bullying tactics”.
The US treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, also announced that Swift, the private financial messaging service that allows banks to communicate securely, would also be subject to sanctions. “We have advised Swift that it must disconnect any Iranian financial institution that we designate as soon as technically feasible to avoid sanctions exposure,” Mnuchin said.
Pompeo said on Friday that the sanctions were “aimed at depriving the regime of the revenues that it uses to spread death and destruction around the world.”
He told reporters: “Our ultimate aim is to compel Iran to permanently abandon its well-documented outlaw activities and behave as a normal country.” Pompeo pointed to Iranian missile development and its involvement in conflicts across the Middle East, as well support for terrorism and assassinations of dissidents in Europe.
The administration has insisted that the sanctions were aimed at changing Tehran’s behaviour rather than regime change. Pompeo said: “Every effort is aimed at giving the Iranian people the government that they not only want but deserve.”
Since May, when Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran’s crude oil exports have dropped by about a third, or about a million barrels a day, a far deeper impact than had generally been expected.
“Back in May, many of us thought that the Trump administration would get a reduction of 500,000 barrels a day. Reducing is bigger than we would have predicted,” said Peter Harrell, a former senior state department official involved with sanctions and now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security thinktank.
Harrell said the administration was concerned not to drive up the oil price with its sanctions against Iran. He added it was pacing its actions to cut off the flow of crude oil according to the pace of additional supply of oil expected to come on the market from Russia, the US and Saudi Arabia early next year.
Pompeo said that, despite the waivers expected to be granted on Monday, the Trump administration was still focused on eliminating Iranian oil revenue altogether.
“We expect to issue some temporary allotments to eight jurisdictions but only because they have demonstrated significant reductions in crude oil and cooperation on many other fronts and have made important moves to getting to zero crude oil importation,” the secretary of state said. “These negotiations are still ongoing.”