Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday praised US President Donald Trump for reenacting all sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal.
“For years I’ve called for fully renewing sanctions against Iran’s murderous terror regime that endangers the entire world,” he said in a statement.
“The effect of the initial sanctions is already being felt — the [local currency] is at a low, Iran’s economy is at a low and we’re already seeing results on the ground,” he added.
“Thank you President Trump for this historic action. Sanctions are indeed coming.”
Deputy Minister Michael Oren, a former ambassador to the US, also welcomed the new sanctions, saying they presented “a historic opportunity to amend the dangerous injustice of the Iran nuclear deal.”
The Friday announcement completed the unraveling of what had been one of his predecessor’s signature foreign policy achievements.
The sanctions, which will take effect on Monday, cover Iran’s shipping, financial, and energy sectors and are the second batch the administration has reimposed since Trump withdrew from the landmark accord in May. The rollback ends US participation in the nuclear deal, which now hangs in the balance as Iran no longer enjoys any relief from sanctions imposed by the world’s largest economy.
Shortly after the announcement, Trump tweeted a movie poster-like image of himself walking out of what appears to be fog with the phrase “Sanctions are Coming, November 5.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2018
With limited exceptions, the sanctions will hit countries that do not stop importing Iranian oil and foreign firms that do business with blacklisted Iranian entities, including its central bank, a number of private financial institutions, and state-run port and shipping firms, as well as hundreds of individual Iranian officials.
Since the US pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran in May, the Iranian rial has slipped to record lows, which has consequently led many in the authoritarian country to explicitly call for an end to the rule of Iran’s Islamist leadership.
Protests have sprung up in several major cities including Isfahan, Shiraz, Mashhad, and Tehran, driven by concerns over the economy as well as wider anger at the political system.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions are “aimed at fundamentally altering the behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” He has issued a list of 12 demands that Iran must meet to get the sanctions lifted that include an end to its support for terrorism and military engagement in Syria and a halt to nuclear and ballistic missile development. He said US allies such as Turkey, Italy, India, Japan, and South Korea will receive temporary waivers allowing them to continue to import Iranian petroleum products as they move to end such imports entirely.
But proponents as well as the other parties to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the European Union — have vehemently defended it. The Europeans have mounted a drive to save the agreement without the US, fearing that the new sanctions will drive Iran to pull out and resume all of its nuclear work.
France, Germany, Britain, and the European Union issued a joint condemnation Friday of the US move, vowing to protect European companies doing “legitimate” business with Tehran.
Friday’s announcement comes just days before congressional midterm elections in the US, allowing Trump to highlight his decision to withdraw from the deal — a move that was popular among Republicans.
Washington says it wants a new deal with Iran, curtailing its regional interventions and missile program — demands which have been flatly rejected by Tehran.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saturday that Trump has “disgraced” US prestige and would be the ultimate loser from renewing sanctions on the Islamic republic.
“This new US president… has disgraced the remnant of America’s prestige and that of liberal democracy. America’s hard power, that is to say their economic and military power, is declining too,” he said on his Persian Twitter account, quoting a speech in Tehran.
Pompeo said eight nations will receive temporary waivers allowing them to continue to import Iranian petroleum products for a limited period as they move to end such imports entirely. He said those countries, which other officials said would include US allies such as Turkey, Italy, India, Japan, and South Korea, had made efforts to eliminate their imports but could not complete the task by Monday.
The waivers, expected to be announced Monday, will be valid for six months, during which time the importing country can buy Iranian oil but must deposit Iran’s revenue in an escrow account. Iran can spend the money but only on a narrow range of humanitarian items. Pompeo said two of the eight countries would wind down imports to zero within weeks.
The 2015 nuclear deal gave Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, which many believed it was using to develop atomic weapons. Trump repeatedly denounced the agreement as the “worst ever” negotiated by the United States and vowed to withdraw from it during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump and other critics of the deal said it gave Iran too much in return for too little, allowed Iran to gradually resume nuclear activity that could eventually be used for weapons development and did not address any of the country’s other problematic activities.