US unleashes ‘worst ever’ oil and financial sanctions on Iranian regime

On May 8, 2018 US President Donald Trump signed a document reinstating sanctions against Iran. (File photo: AFP)

The United States reimposed oil and financial sanctions against Iran on Monday, significantly turning up the pressure on Tehran in order to curb its missile and nuclear programs and counter its growing military and political influence in the Middle East.

The Trump administration reimposed sanctions on the Iranian regime's energy, shipping and financial sectors, targeting over 700 entities.

Many of these companies were initially hit by Obama-era sanctions that were subsequently lifted when the US entered the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.

The move will restore US sanctions that were lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by the administration of President Barack Obama, and add 300 new designations in Iran's oil, shipping, insurance and banking sectors.

President Donald Trump announced in May that his administration was withdrawing from what he called the "worst ever" agreement negotiated by the United States. Other parties to the deal, including Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, have said they will not leave.

Details of the sanctions will be released at a news conference scheduled for 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT) with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

China, India, South Korea, Japan and Turkey - all top importers of Iranian oil - are among eight countries expected to be given temporary exemptions from the sanctions to ensure crude oil prices are not destabilized.

The countries will deposit Iran's revenue in an escrow account, US officials have said.

The reimposition of the sanctions comes as the United States is focused on U.S. congressional and gubernatorial elections on Tuesday. Campaigning in Chattanooga, Tennessee, late on Sunday, Trump said his "maximum pressure" policy against Iran was working.

"Iran is a much different country than it was when I took office," said Trump, adding: "They wanted to take over the whole Middle East. Right now they just want to survive."

Earlier, thousands of Iranians chanted "Death to America" at a rally to mark the anniversary of the seizure of the U.S. Embassy during the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday that Iran should implement policies to safeguard its macroeconomic stability in the face of sanctions.

Choice of date

According to some observers, the choice of date - Nov. 4 -  for the re-imposing of sanctions is a random choice.

But others argue that the date of the second round of sanctions is not coincidental, especially following the tweet of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who wrote: “Today marks the 39th anniversary of the US embassy takeover in Tehran, when more than 50 of our colleagues were taken hostage. Their courage & resolve over 444 days in captivity continues to underscore our commitment to compel Iran to permanently abandon its outlaw activities.”

On this day in 1979, the early days of the Iranian revolution against the Shah, a group of Iranian young men who were enthusiastic about the Khomeini movement stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and detained more than 50 American diplomats inside the embassy for 444 days, on 4 November 1979, and ended on 20 January 1981.

While all international conventions opposed and denounced what the radical students did at the start of the Iranian revolution storming the US embassy in 1979, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commanders celebrated today the anniversary of the storming of the embassy in speeches coinciding with the start of the second round of US sanctions on Sunday.

Many analysts believe that the storming of the US embassy on November 4, 40 years ago, was the main factor in igniting the crisis between Washington and Tehran, a crisis that lasted four decades ago, which benefited Iran’s hardliners who are supported by the Supreme Leader in Iran to continue the rule and the division of Iranian society.
 

(With Reuters)

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:58 - GMT 06:58
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