US ramps up pres­sure on Iran, reim­poses sanc­tions

Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - Front Page - BY MATTHEW LEE

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on Fri­day an­nounced the reim­po­si­tion of all U.S. sanc­tions on Iran that had been lifted un­der the 2015 nu­clear deal, ramp­ing up eco­nomic pres­sure on the Is­lamic Re­pub­lic as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump com­pleted the un­rav­el­ing of what had been one of his pre­de­ces­sor’s sig­na­ture for­eign pol­icy achieve­ments.

The sanc­tions, which will take ef­fect on Mon­day, cover Iran’s ship­ping, fi­nan­cial and en­ergy sec­tors and are the sec­ond batch the ad­min­is­tra­tion has reim­posed since Trump with­drew from the land­mark ac­cord in May. The roll­back ends U.S. par­tic­i­pa­tion in the nu­clear deal, which now hangs in the bal­ance as Iran no longer en­joys any re­lief from sanc­tions im­posed by the world’s largest econ­omy.

Shortly af­ter the an­nounce­ment, Trump tweeted a movie poster­like im­age of him­self walk­ing out of what ap­pears to be fog with the phrase “Sanc­tions are Com­ing, Novem­ber 5.”

Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo said the sanc­tions are “aimed at fun­da­men­tally al­ter­ing the be­hav­ior of the Is­lamic Re­pub­lic of Iran.” He has is­sued a list of 12 de­mands that Iran must meet if it wants the sanc­tions lifted. Those in­clude end­ing sup­port for ter­ror­ism and mil­i­tary en­gage­ment in Syria and a com­plete halt to its nu­clear and bal­lis­tic mis­sile devel­op­ment.

The 2015 deal, one of for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s big­gest diplo­matic suc­cesses, gave Iran bil­lions of dol­lars in sanc­tions re­lief in ex­change for curbs on its nu­clear pro­gram, which many be­lieved it was us­ing to de­velop atomic weapons. Trump re­peat­edly de­nounced the agree­ment as the “worst ever” ne­go­ti­ated by the United States and vowed to with­draw from it dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

Trump and other crit­ics of the deal said it gave Iran too much in re­turn for too lit­tle, al­lowed Iran to grad­u­ally re­sume nu­clear ac­tiv­ity that could even­tu­ally be used for weapons devel­op­ment and did not ad­dress any of the coun­try’s other prob­lem­atic ac­tiv­i­ties.

With lim­ited ex­cep­tions, the reim­posed sanc­tions will hit Iran as well as coun­tries that do not stop im­port­ing Ira­nian oil and for­eign firms that do busi­ness with black­listed Ira­nian en­ti­ties, in­clud­ing its cen­tral bank, a num­ber of pri­vate fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, and state-run port and ship­ping firms, as well as hun­dreds of in­di­vid­ual Ira­nian of­fi­cials.

“Our ul­ti­mate aim is to com­pel Iran to per­ma­nently aban­don its well­doc­u­mented out­law ac­tiv­i­ties and be­have as a nor­mal coun­try,” Pom­peo told re­porters in a con­fer­ence call with Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin. “Max­i­mum pres­sure means max­i­mum pres­sure.”

Pom­peo said eight na­tions will re­ceive tem­po­rary waivers al­low­ing them to con­tinue to im­port Ira­nian pe­tro­leum prod­ucts for a lim­ited pe­riod as they move to end such im­ports en­tirely. He said those coun­tries, which other of­fi­cials said would in­clude U.S. al­lies such as Turkey, Italy, In­dia, Ja­pan and South Korea, had made ef­forts to elim­i­nate their im­ports but could not com­plete the task by Mon­day.

The waivers, ex­pected to be an­nounced Mon­day, will be valid for six months, dur­ing which time the im­port­ing coun­try can buy Ira­nian oil but must de­posit Iran’s rev­enue in an es­crow ac­count. Iran can spend the money but only on a nar­row range of hu­man­i­tar­ian items. Pom­peo said two of the eight coun­tries would wind down im­ports to zero within weeks.

Mnuchin said 700 more Ira­nian com­pa­nies and peo­ple would be added to the sanc­tions rolls. Those, he said, would in­clude more than 300 that had not been in­cluded un­der pre­vi­ous sanc­tions.

“We are send­ing a very clear mes­sage with our max­i­mum pres­sure cam­paign: that the U.S. in­tends to ag­gres­sively en­force our sanc­tions,” he said.

Is­rael, which con­sid­ers Iran an ex­is­ten­tial threat and op­posed the deal from the be­gin­ning, wel­comed Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment.

“Thank you, Mr. Pres­i­dent, for restor­ing sanc­tions against an Ira­nian regime that vows and works to de­stroy the Jewish state,” Is­raeli Am­bas­sador to the U.S. Ron Der­mer said in a tweet.


A crew­man stands on the deck of the oil tanker Devon as it sails through the Per­sian Gulf to­wards Iran’s Kharq Is­land oil ter­mi­nal. Re­vived U.S. sanc­tions, which take ef­fect Mon­day, cover Iran’s ship­ping, fi­nan­cial and en­ergy sec­tors.

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