US President Donald Trump targeted Iran’s steel and mining sectors Wednesday in his latest tough sanctions, but said that he “someday” hoped to negotiate face-to-face with the clerical regime.
The announcement came hours after Iran said it was suspending some limits set by a 2015 multinational nuclear deal — on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s pullout from the accord.
The White House said it was imposing sanctions on all trade of Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum and copper, the country’s biggest export after oil — which the United States is already working to halt completely.
“Today’s action targets Iran’s revenue from the export of industrial metals — 10 percent of its export economy — and puts other nations on notice that allowing Iranian steel and other metals into your ports will no longer be tolerated,” Trump said in a statement.
“Tehran can expect further actions unless it fundamentally alters its conduct.”
But in a softer tone, Trump, who talked tough on North Korea before entering landmark talks with leader Kim Jong Un, said he was also willing to negotiate.
“I look forward to someday meeting with the leaders of Iran in order to work out an agreement and, very importantly, taking steps to give Iran the future it deserves,” he said.
Earlier Wednesday, in a highly anticipated speech on the one-year anniversary of the US pulling out of the deal, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened higher-level uranium enrichment would resume if new nuclear deal terms are not reached by the deadline.
Rouhani said Iran wanted to negotiate new terms with remaining partners in the deal, but that the situation was dire. “We felt that the nuclear deal needs a surgery and the painkiller pills of the last year have been ineffective,” Rouhani said. “This surgery is for saving the deal, not destroying it.”
Iran sent letters Wednesday on its decision to the leaders of Britain, China, the European Union, France and Germany. All were signatories to the nuclear deal and continue to support it. A letter was also to go to Russia.
Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal in May last year but the other five signatories have all agreed to try to keep the pact alive on their own. Trump insists the original agreement did not go far enough in curbing Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions and wants to renegotiate the JCPOA with stricter terms.
The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog says Iran has continued to comply with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw it limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. But American sanctions have wreaked havoc on Iran’s already-anemic economy, while promised help from European partners in the deal haven’t alleviated the pain.