US to impose new sanctions on Iran

The US is to implement new sanctions on Iran today as part of its “maximum pressure” strategy.

On Saturday US President Donald Trump tweeted: “Iran cannot have nuclear weapons! Under the terrible Obama plan, they would have been on their way to nuclear in a short number of years, and existing verification is not acceptable. We are putting major additional sanctions on Iran on Monday.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday he wants to build a global coalition against Iran during urgent consultations in the Middle East, following a week that saw the US cancel a military strike on Iran. Pompeo said the goal of his talks with Saudi Arabia and the UAE is to deny Iran: “The resources to foment terror, to build out their nuclear weapon system, to build out their missile programme”.

Foreign Office Middle East Minister, Andrew Murrison MP, visited Iran over the weekend in an effort to calm tensions. He said the UK believes Iran “almost certainly bears responsibility” for the recent attacks in the Gulf and made clear UK concerns over activities in the region.

He said: “This visit has provided an important opportunity for open, frank and constructive engagement with the Iranian government. In Tehran I was clear about the UK’s long-held concerns over Iran’s activities in the region. And I was clear that the UK will continue to play its full part alongside international partners to find diplomatic solutions to reduce the current tensions.”

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with US National Security Adviser John Bolton. Netanyahu said: “I want to state this very clearly: The supporters of the Iran deal argued that the infusion of cash, massive cash into Iran’s economy, would moderate Iran. They argued that Iran would become inward-focused, would start nation-building. And in fact, the opposite has happened.” Speaking about the cancellation of US military strikes on Iran, Bolton said: “Neither Iran nor any other hostile actor should mistake US prudence and discretion for weakness. No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East.”

On Tuesday Bolton will attend a meeting in Jerusalem with the national security advisors of Russia and Israel to discuss Syria among other issues.