WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has reimposed sanctions on Iran, with the White House warning of worse to come.
Trump yesterday signed the executive order intended to impose “maximum economic pressure” on Iran, after he announced the US withdrawal from the nuclear accord in May.
The 2015 pact, negotiated by Barack Obama alongside Germany, France, the UK, Russia and China, lifted sanctions on Tehran in return for a freeze on its nuclear programme.
Trump repeated his assertion it was a “horrible, one-sided deal” that had failed to block Iran’s route to developing nuclear bombs, and “threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos.”
The sanctions, which will go into effect at midnight, target the use of dollars in Iran, the automotive sector and trade in gold and precious metals. A second round of more comprehensive sanctions will go into effect on November 5.
Trump said US policy is to levy “maximum economic pressure” on the country, while hoping for new negotiations between Iran and the United States that would result in another, more wide-ranging, accord.
The sanctions will remain in place unless Tehran ends its support for extremists and its enrichment of uranium, according to US officials.
A senior administration official told reporters in a briefing that the President had made it clear that this does not need to happen, and he is open to meeting Iran’s leadership at any time to discuss a deal that will “contain their regional ambitions, end their malign behaviour and deny them any paths to a nuclear weapon.”
Harsher sanctions will follow on November 5, when the US will seek to cut off Iran’s oil exports and block shipping.
Mr Trump said in a statement: “The United States is fully committed to enforcing all of our sanctions, and we will work closely with nations conducting business with Iran to ensure complete compliance. Individuals or entities that fail to wind down activities with Iran risk severe consequences.”
The EU issued a “blocking statute” on Monday to protect European businesses from the impact of sanctions. European ministers said the Iran deal was “crucial for the security of Europe, the region and the entire world”. Trump wants a new deal that goes beyond curbing Iran’s nuclear program, and ends what the US calls its “malign influence” in the region, including its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and militant groups in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories.