August 7, 2018
A first wave of U.S. sanctions against Iran that had been eased under a 2015 nuclear deal have gone back into effect, targeting financial transactions in U.S. dollars, Iran’s automotive industry, the purchase of commercial aircraft and metals including gold, and the selling of Persian carpets.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who reimposed the sanctions in an executive order, tweeted early on August 7 that the measure means, “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States.”
“I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!”
More sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and Central Bank are to be reinstated in November.
Washington claimed that Iranians are already seeing economic woes brought on by the sanctions, with Iran’s rial currency losing around half its value since Trump announced he would withdraw the United States from Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord with world powers in April.
Ahead of the reimposition of sanctions, Trump said in a statement on August 6, “We urge all nations to take such steps to make clear that the Iranian regime faces a choice: either change its threatening, destabilizing behavior, and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation.”
Trump warned that those who don’t reduce their economic exchanges with Iran “risk severe consequences.”
In reaction to the U.S. move, Russia on August 7 said it was “deeply disappointed” by Trump’s decision.
“We are deeply disappointed by U.S. steps to reimpose its national sanctions against Iran,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Russia will do “everything necessary” to save the 2015 deal and protect its shared economic interests with Tehran, the statement said.
Despite the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said Iran will continue to comply with the deal’s restrictions on its nuclear activities in exchange for continued relief from sanctions by the European Union, Russia, China, and other major trading partners.
“Despite the sanctions, we will prove that we stick to our word and honor international deals,” he said.
Iran’s vow to stick with the nuclear deal was applauded by the European Union, which on August 6 issued a “blocking statute” aimed at protecting European businesses from penalties that might result from the reimposition of U.S. sanctions.
“We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran,” EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said.
Despite the blocking law and other measures taken by the EU to encourage companies to continue doing business with Iran, however, hundreds of European and Asian companies have already announced their exit from the Iranian market.
Moreover, the return of sanctions has increased tensions inside Iran, where in recent days protests have occurred in multiple towns and cities over the plummeting currency, water shortages, high prices, and alleged corruption in the political system.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the global reaction to Trump’s move showed that Washington is the one that is diplomatically “isolated,” not Tehran.
But he acknowledged the sanctions “may cause some disruption” for Iran’s battered economy and claimed they were “endangering ordinary Iranians.”
The current round of sanctions affects cars, carpets, and food exports, as well as Iranian imports of graphite, aluminum, steel, coal, and some software. Iran will also be banned from buying certain aircraft.
The second phase of U.S. sanctions, which takes effect on November 5, is aimed at blocking Iran’s vital oil sales, which drive much of the country’s economic growth, and could cause even more damage.
Several key buyers of Iranian oil — including China, India, and Turkey — have said they are not willing to entirely cut off their supplies from Iran.