Trump fulfils vow to hit Iran hard as nation slams ‘American bullying’

Monday - 06/08/2018 11:53
THE Middle Eastern nation slammed “American bullying” as the US President signed an order ramping up tensions once more.

DONALD Trump has reimposed sanctions on Iran, with the White House warning of worse to come as the Middle Eastern nation slammed “American bullying”.

Mr Trump on Monday signed the executive order intended to impose “maximum economic pressure” on Iran, after he announced the United States’ withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May.

The 2015 accord, negotiated by Barack Obama alongside Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China, gave Tehran billions in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

The reimposition of sanctions by the US will take effect at 12.01am on Tuesday, severely denting Iran’s trade in precious metals and the automotive sector.

The sanctions will remain in place unless Tehran ends its support for militant groups in the Middle East and ends its enrichment of uranium, according to US officials.

Donald Trump has reimposed economic sanctions on Iran. Picture: AP Photo/John Minchillo
Donald Trump has reimposed economic sanctions on Iran. Picture: AP Photo/John MinchilloSource:AP

“The president has been very clear: none of this needs to happen,” a senior administration official told reporters. “He will meet with Iranian leadership at anytime to discuss a real, comprehensive deal that will contain their regional ambitions, will end their malign behaviour and deny them any paths to a nuclear weapon.”

Harsher sanction will follow on November 5, when the US will try to cut off Iran’s oil exports and block shipping.

But China, India and Turkey have indicated they are not willing to entirely cut their Iranian energy purchases.

Iran said earlier on Monday the US was “isolated” in its hostility. While it may lose some business from Europe, it is likely to continue the lucrative business of exporting oil to China.

“American bullying and political pressures may cause some disruption, but the fact is that in the current world, America is isolated,” foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani insisted the United States was ‘isolated’ in its hostility. Picture: AFP Photo / Atta Kenare
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani insisted the United States was ‘isolated’ in its hostility. Picture: AFP Photo / Atta KenareSource:AFP

The EU, Britain, France and Germany said in a statement: “We deeply regret the reimposition of sanctions by the US.

“We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran.”

Iran is widely believed to be adhering to its core promises under the pact, but the Trump administration has pinpointed the country’s destabilising activities in Syria and other Middle Eastern nations as the reason for its withdrawal from the agreement.

Iran’s currency has lost around half its value since Mr Trump’s announcement, with investors fearing US penalties.

It has added to tensions in Iran, which has seen days of protests and strikes in multiple towns and cities over water shortages, high prices and anger at the political system.

The first round of sanctions will come into effect on Tuesday, after Mr Trump announced the United States was withdrawing from the nuclear accord in May. Picture: AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan
The first round of sanctions will come into effect on Tuesday, after Mr Trump announced the United States was withdrawing from the nuclear accord in May. Picture: AFP Photo / Mandel NganSource:AFP

Severe reporting restrictions have made it impossible to verify the claims coming through social media, but journalists did confirm a heavy build-up of riot police on Sunday night in the town of Karaj, west of Tehran, that has been a focal point of unrest, and said mobile internet had been cut in the area.

Mr Rouhani is due to give a televised address to the nation later on Monday to outline plans for tackling the currency decline and impact of sanctions.

His government eased foreign exchange rules on Sunday, allowing unlimited tax-free currency and gold imports, and reopening exchange bureaus after a disastrous attempt to fix the value of the rial in April led to widespread black-market corruption.

Two countries that have welcomed increased pressure on Iran are its key regional rivals, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman described the renewed sanctions as “a courageous decision which will be remembered for generations.”

Mr Zarif suggested it was hard to imagine Mr Rouhani meeting with Mr Trump after he tore up an agreement on which world powers had spent the “longest hours in negotiating history”.

“Do you think this person (Mr Trump) is a good and suitable person to negotiate with? Or is he just showing off?” he said.

There have been ongoing rumours that the two leaders could meet in New York later this month, where they are both attending the UN General Assembly — though Mr Rouhani reportedly rejected US overtures for a meeting at last year’s event.

Mr Trump again raised the idea of meeting this weekend, tweeting: “I will meet, or not meet, it doesn’t matter — it is up to them!”

It came less than a fortnight after a wild exchange between the presidents, with Mr Rouhani warning of the “mother of all wars” and Trump responding with a Twitter tirade against Iran’s “DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE”.

Mr Trump has stated he wants a new deal with Iran that goes beyond curbing its nuclear program, and ends what America calls its “malign influence” in the region, including its support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and militant groups in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories.

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