The Trump administration is announcing the reimposition of all U.S. sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions are “aimed at fundamentally altering the behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” He has released a list of 12 demands that Iran must meet if it wants the sanctions lifted. They include ending support for terrorism, ending military engagement in Syria and completely halting its nuclear and ballistic missile development.
“Maximum pressure means maximum pressure,” he said.
Pompeo said eight nations, which other officials identified as U.S. allies such as Italy, India, Japan and South Korea, will receive temporary waivers allowing them to continue to import Iranian petroleum products for a limited period as long as they end such imports entirely. He said those countries had made efforts to eliminate their imports but could not complete the task by Monday’s deadline.
Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said 700 more Iranian companies and people would be added to the sanctions lists under the reimposed sanctions.
Iran hard-liners in Congress and elsewhere probably will be disappointed in the sanctions because they were pushing for no oil import waivers as well as the complete disconnection of Iran from the main international financial messaging network known as SWIFT.
Mnuchin defended the move to allow some Iranian banks to remain connected to SWIFT, saying that the Belgium-based firm had been warned that it will face penalties if sanctioned institutions are permitted to use it.
Pompeo and Mnuchin both said the sanctions will have exceptions for humanitarian purchases.
The sanctions come six months after President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal struck between world powers and Iran.
At the time, he began reimposing sanctions that had been suspended or removed by his predecessor Barack Obama. That process will be completed starting from midnight Sunday, US eastern time, when sanctions on the regime’s banks, shippers, shipbuilders and oil sector are imposed.
The impact remains in question as other countries, particularly Washington’s European allies, resist joining its effort to economically strangle the Tehran regime.
The European Union has gone so far as to protect businesses that operate in Iran. It has announced plans for a legal framework through which firms can skirt U.S. sanctions, although few major corporations have been eager to risk the wrath of penalties in the world’s largest economy.
“This is not 2012 when the world was united behind sanctions against Iran. This is the Trump administration trying to force the rest of the world to go along with a policy that most countries do not accept,” said Barbara Slavin, an Iran expert at the Washington-based Atlantic Council.
“The U.S. has had some success in terms of frightening away major corporations. The sanctions hurt a lot. But Iran is still going to be able to sell oil,” especially to China, she said.