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US imposes tough sanctions on Iran

The US has reinstated all sanctions against Iran that were removed under the 2015 nuclear deal.

The sanctions target Iran’s oil, shipping, energy and banking sectors. The US Treasury Department has added 700 names to its list of blocked entities, of which 300 are new targets. US President Donald Trump called the sanctions “the strongest we’ve ever imposed,” adding that: “We’ll see what happens with Iran, but they’re not doing very well, I can tell you.”

The US State Department has granted exemptions to eight countries to continue importing Iranian oil, without naming them. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said those countries had already made “significant reductions in their crude oil exports” but needed “a little bit more time to get to zero”.

He told Fox News: “We are working diligently to make sure we support the Iranian people and that we direct our activity towards ensuring that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s malign behaviour is changed. That’s the goal, that’s the mission, and that’s what we will achieve on behalf of the President.” He added that more than 100 large international companies had withdrawn from Iran because of the looming sanctions.

The Brussels-based Swift network for making international payments is expected to cut off links with targeted Iranian institutions, isolating Iran from the international financial system. The UK, Germany and France are supporting European firms that do “legitimate business” with Iran by setting up an alternative payment mechanism – Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) – to help them avoid US penalties.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed to break the sanctions imposed on the country’s vital energy and banking sectors. “America wanted to cut to zero Iran’s oil sales … but we will continue to sell our oil,” Rouhani told reporters.

Iran’s military chief, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, warned the US President not to threaten Iran “because we can still hear the horrified cries of your soldiers in the [desert] … and you know it better, how many of your old soldiers in American society commit suicide every day because of depression and fear that they suffered in battlefields”.