Iran weighs re­sponse as U.S. sanc­tions bite

The Western Star - - WORLD - BY AMIR VAHDAT AND MEHDI FATTAHI

As Ira­ni­ans awoke Tues­day to re­newed U.S. sanc­tions that had been lifted by Tehran’s nu­clear deal with world pow­ers, the ques­tion on ev­ery­one’s mind re­mained: What hap­pens now?

From de­ci­pher­ing Pres­i­dent Donald Trump’s tweets on Iran - in­clud­ing one de­mand­ing “WORLD PEACE” - to try­ing to fig­ure out how much their cra­ter­ing cur­rency is worth, Ira­ni­ans on the streets ap­pear di­vided on how to re­spond.

The same goes for in­side its theo­cratic govern­ment. Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani, a rel­a­tive mod­er­ate, has taken an in­creas­ingly con­fronta­tional line in re­cent weeks, ap­plauded by the hard-lin­ers who had long op­posed him. Mean­while, Rouhani seemed to sug­gest on live tele­vi­sion the night be­fore that di­rect talks with Trump could be pos­si­ble - some­thing of which North Korean For­eign Min­is­ter Ri Yong-hu, who vis­ited Tehran on Tues­day, has per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence.

Whether Iran should choose a Sin­ga­pore-style photo-op with the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent who backed out of the nu­clear deal or aban­don the un­rav­el­ing ac­cord and in­crease its ura­nium en­rich­ment re­mains a fiercely de­bated ques­tion. But ev­ery­one agrees some­thing has to be done soon, as spo­radic, lead­er­less protests across the coun­try of 80 mil­lion peo­ple only add to the pres­sure.

“Their sanc­tions are very ef­fec­tive, as you can see, the govern­ment should find a so­lu­tion,” said Mah­moud, a 62-yearold for­mer civil ser­vant who only gave his first name. “They should first solve do­mes­tic prob­lems be­cause peo­ple are re­ally drown­ing in poverty and mis­ery.”

The newly im­posed Amer­i­can sanc­tions tar­get U.S. dol­lar fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions, Iran’s au­to­mo­tive sec­tor, and the pur­chase of com­mer­cial planes and met­als, in­clud­ing gold. Even-stronger sanc­tions tar­get­ing Iran’s oil sec­tor and cen­tral bank are to be re-im­posed in early Novem­ber.

Ger­man car and truck maker Daim­ler AG on Tues­day said it was suspending its “very lim­ited” ac­tiv­i­ties in Iran and shut­ter­ing a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fice. Euro­pean com­pa­nies had known since Trump’s de­ci­sion in May that sanc­tions were com­ing back. Air­bus at that time sus­pended plane de­liv­er­ies to Iran; of 98 or­ders, only one A321 had been de­liv­ered, plus two A330s that were sold to a com­pany that leased them to an Ira­nian cus­tomer.

As un­cer­tainty over the Iran nu­clear deal grew af­ter Trump en­tered the White House, Iran’s al­ready-ane­mic econ­omy nose­dived. The coun­try’s monthly in­fla­tion rate has hit dou­ble dig­its again and the na­tional un­em­ploy­ment rate is 12.5 per cent. Among youth, it is even worse, with around 25 per cent out of a job.

AP PHOTO

An il­le­gal street money ex­changer poses with his U.S. ban­knotes in down­town Tehran, Iran, Tues­day.

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