Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, returning from Asia on Sunday night, told reporters that Iran’s clerical leaders are “bad actors” and that the administration aims to get Iran to “behave like a normal country”.
Washington’s so-called “snapback” sanctions are due to be reinstated against Tehran at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, a U.S. Treasury official said, speaking on condition anonymity.
Sanctions will now be restored against Iranian purchases of US bank notes, trade in gold and other precious metals, industrial materials such as steel and coal, software, currency trades, Tehran’s issuance of government debt, and the Iranian automobile industry.
While most of the world has been focusing on the sanctions on Iran’s vast oil and gas reserves that will be reimposed in November, this first wave of sanctions will hit Iran’s vulnerable economy harder than most are now anticipating.
Under the breakthrough 2015 deal in Vienna, the Iranian government agreed to cut down its uranium stockpile and scale back its enrichment programme far below the level required to build a nuclear weapon.
“We deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the USA, due to the latter’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)”, the statement issued in Brussels said.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani attends a news conference in Vienna last month. But with both presidents swapping threats and insults, a meeting seems unlikely.
Pompeo said the United States wants “the Iranian people to have a strong voice of who their leadership will be”, although he stopped short of calling for regime change in Tehran.
The Iranian rial has been in a free fall as the deadline for the first round of sanctions neared.
Critics also warn that this kind of pressure from the US could empower hardliners, especially as they try to blame the economic turmoil on a foreign power, as opposed to the government’s own mismanagement. The United States also plans to re-introduce potentially more damaging sanctions on Iranian oil in November. “In the past, Iran’s main response was to redouble efforts in the nuclear domain” as a response to USA pressure, but now with the Iran deal in place, that option is out.
But “all of this unhappiness, all of the economic difficulties related to the devaluation, has taken place before the sanctions had been reimposed”, said Ross.
Meanwhile, Trump has dangled the humiliating prospect of a summit with Iran as the country increasingly finds itself boxed in by United States pressure.
“As we continue applying maximum economic pressure on the Iranian regime”, Trump said, “I remain open to reaching a more comprehensive deal that addresses the full range of the regime’s malign activities, including its ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism”.
Preserving the nuclear deal with Iran is a matter of respecting global agreements and a matter of worldwide security. This may backfire on Europe in a big way if they begin to penalize US-based companies who might decide to relocate away from the European Union to escape their jurisdiction.
Iran Air announced it would take delivery of five ATR aircraft from the French-Italian firm on Sunday, sneaking under the wire before the sanctions return. To meet the surging demand Iran’s central bank had to mint hundreds of thousands of coins, reportedly totaling over 60 tons of gold.