Friday, 18 January, 2019

Iran sanctions: United States vows 'relentless' pressure as sanctions resume

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Ginger Lawrence | 07 November, 2018, 00:02

On Monday, he revealed those countries include Iran's top two customers, China and India, as well as Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey.

As sanctions returned on Monday, Iran struck a defiant tone, with President Hassan Rouhani saying in a televised speech "I announce that we will proudly bypass your illegal, unjust sanctions because it's against worldwide regulations". If the Republicans win and maintain control over both houses of Congress-consequently bolstering Trump ahead of the 2020 presidential elections-Iran would have to turn to other options. "Therefore, we will proudly break the sanctions".

The reimposed sanctions will also target Iran's central bank and the country's shipping and shipbuilding sectors.

'We are in the war situation, ' he said.

"Treasury's imposition of unprecedented financial pressure on Iran should make clear to the Iranian regime that they will face mounting financial isolation and economic stagnation until they fundamentally change their destabilising behaviour", Mr Mnuchin said in a statement.

Industry estimates suggest Iran's oil exports have in fact fallen by 40-60 percent since Trump said in May that he would reimpose sanctions, but 180-day exemptions for Iran's biggest oil clients could mean they rise again after November. So far this year, the United States has sent 873,420 tonnes of soybeans to Iran, according to Bloomberg.

The U.S. says the sanctions are not aimed at toppling the government, but at persuading it to radically change its policies, including its support for regional militant groups and its development of long-range ballistic missiles.

Rouhani did not mention the name of the leaders of the four countries.

However, the Democratic Party leadership criticised Trump for giving exemptions to some of the major Iranian oil importers.

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An effigy of U.S. government icon "Uncle Sam" is held up by demonstrators during a rally in front of the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, marking the 39th anniversary of the seizure of the embassy. China has publicly defied the United States call for curbs on oil imports from Iran. However, SWIFT announced today that it would shut out the 50 Iranian banks sanctioned as part of today's sanctions announcement after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin threatened penalties on participating banks and board members Friday.

The US sanctions herald the end of Washington's involvement in the landmark 2015 deal signed between Iran, the US and other world powers, which was created to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"We continue negotiations to get all of the nations to zero", he said. Imposing maximal economic pressure on Iran is vital for getting Tehran back to the table, he said.

"Sagging refining margins at a time of weak crude prices sends a very telling message to us that demand is underperforming", he said.

In addition to permitting continued nuclear projects, the administration has walked back its vow to cut Iran's oil exports to zero and fully disconnect Tehran from the global banking system.

Israel has been a fierce opponent of the 2015 nuclear deal, saying it didn't rein in Iran's regional military activities.

Mr Pompeo said more than 100 global companies had withdrawn from Iran because of the looming sanctions.

They have set up an alternative payment mechanism - or Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) - that will help companies trade without facing USA penalties.

Asked if the USA had firm commitments from India and China to stop all oil purchases from Iran within six months, Pompeo replied: "Watch what we do".