As sanctions bite, where next for Trump’s Iran strategy

Frederick Owens
August 6, 2018

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A first set of US sanctions that had been eased by the Obama administration under the terms of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal will take effect again on Monday, following President Donald Trump's decision in May to withdraw from the accord.

Washington's so-called "snapback" sanctions are due to be reinstated against Tehran at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, a US Treasury official said, speaking on condition anonymity. This is why the European Union's updated Blocking Statute enters into force on 7 August to protect EU companies doing legitimate business with Iran from the impact of United States extra-territorial sanctions.

He also said Tehran expects the European countries to bring forward a practical package of proposals to salvage Iranian nuclear deal, also known as JCPOA, after the US pull-out in May.

Trump had denounced the deal reached under his White House predecessor, Barack Obama, as one-sided in Iran's favor.

Starting this week, Washington will re-impose sanctions on the Middle East nation's purchases of U.S. dollars, its trade in gold and precious metals, and its dealings with metals, coal and industrial-related software.

Washington has told countries they must halt all imports of Iranian oil from 4 November or face USA financial measures.

Writing on Twitter later that day, he said the U.S. was "deeply concerned about reports of Iranian regime's violence against unarmed citizens" and urged respect for human rights.

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If Iran senses "American steel they back down, if they perceive American mush they push forward - and right now they perceive steel", said Mark Dubowitz, chief executive of Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank that lobbied for a renegotiation of the Iran nuclear deal.

Pompeo said the intensified pressure on Tehran was created to "push back against Iranian malign activity".

In Washington, the US State Department said on its Persian-language Twitter account: "While it is ultimately up to the #people_of_Iran to determine their country's path, #America supports the voice of the Iranian people, which has been ignored for a long time".

The plunge in the currency and soaring inflation have sparked sporadic demonstrations against profiteering and corruption, with many protesters chanting anti-government slogans. "They have got to behave like a normal country", he said, describing Iranian leaders as "bad actors".

Last month, USA officials familiar with the matter said the Trump administration had launched a communications campaign to foment unrest and put pressure on Iran to end its nuclear programme and its support of armed groups.

"We've said this before", said Pompeo, the former Central Intelligence Agency chief.

The controversial move was preceded by a deadly crush of Hajj pilgrims in September 2015, which killed more than 460 Iranians. "But there's no evidence today of a change in their behavior".

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