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