Pres­i­dent ‘open to a deal’ with Iran as he im­poses fresh sanc­tions

The Sunday Telegraph - - Us Midterm Elections - By Raf Sanchez MID­DLE EAST COR­RE­SPON­DENT be­hind the ex-

DON­ALD TRUMP said he was still open to ne­go­ti­at­ing “a new, more com­pre­hen­sive deal with Iran” even as he or­dered a se­vere new round of sanc­tions to come into force at mid­night tonight.

The US pres­i­dent, who pulled Amer­ica out of the Iran nu­clear agree­ment, said he would lift sanc­tions if Iran agreed to a broader deal that re­stricted not only its nu­clear pro­gramme but also its poli­cies across the Mid­dle East.

“Our ob­jec­tive is to force the regime into a clear choice: ei­ther aban­don its de­struc­tive be­hav­ior or con­tinue down the path to­ward eco­nomic dis­as­ter,” Mr Trump said in a state­ment.

Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of Iran, said “the world op­poses every de­ci­sion made by Trump”.

He added: “Amer­ica’s goal has been to re-es­tab­lish the dom­i­na­tion it had [be­fore 1979] but it has failed. Amer­ica has been de­feated by the Is­lamic Repub­lic over the past 40 years.”

Britain, France, Ger­many and the EU said in a joint state­ment that they “deeply re­gret” Mr Trump’s de­ci­sion to reim­pose sanc­tions and re­mained com­mit­ted to the nu­clear agree­ment.

They said they would try to shield Euro­pean firms deal­ing with Iran from the threat of US sanc­tions. Many Western com­pa­nies have fled the Ira­nian mar­ket out of fear of be­ing put on an Amer­i­can black­list, but the EU has set up a fi­nan­cial mech­a­nism de­signed to let them con­tinue do­ing busi­ness. The mech­a­nism is not yet op­er­a­tional and it re­mains to be seen if many firms will take the risk.

Iran an­nounced yes­ter­day that it would be­gin build­ing its own fighter planes to get around US sanc­tions on the im­port of aero­plane parts. Iran has an age­ing air force and many an­a­lysts be­lieve the Kowsar fighter jet is an in­ef­fec­tive copy of the Amer­i­can F-5 jet, which was de­vel­oped in the 1960s.

Mean­while, both sides con­tin­ued a so­cial me­dia war which be­gan when Mr Trump tweeted a movie-style poster with the words, “Sanc­tions Are Com­ing”. The image was de­signed in the style of a poster for the pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion pro­gramme Game of Thrones.

Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds force, posted an image of him­self in the same style, in­clud­ing the mes­sage “I Will Stand Against You”. He also de­nounced Mr Trump as “a gam­bler”, an in­sult in Iran, where gam­bling is for­bid­den.

HBO, the US broad­caster

Game of Thrones, watched change with be­muse­ment.

“How do you say trade­mark mis­use in Dothraki?” it tweeted, re­fer­ring to a fic­tional lan­guage spo­ken in the fan­tasy pro­gramme.

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