World prepares for US sanctions on Iran

Iranians monitor the stock market at the stock exchange in Tehran on May 8, 2018. Renewed nuclear sanctions would certainly cause severe problems for Iran's economy, but much of the damage has already been done by the uncertainty created by the US and myriad home-grown problems. (AFP / ATTA KENARE)
Updated 12 May 2018
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World prepares for US sanctions on Iran

  • Global shipping companies, traders, insurers and banks look at pulling the plug on business with Tehran after Donald Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran.
  • Reuters cites sources at global trading companies predicting an imminent drop in Iranian exports due to banking issues, such as availability of trade finance.

LONDON:  US President Donald Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran is forcing global shipping companies, traders, insurers and banks to look at pulling the plug on business with Tehran, it emerged yesterday.

Swiss-headquartered private shipping group MSC said it would “comply with the (sanctions) timetable set out by the US government.”

Denmark’s Maersk Line said it had ceased acceptance of the specific cargoes blacklisted by the US Treasury this week.

On May 9, President Donald Trump broke with his European allies to announce US withdrawal from the international nuclear agreement with Tehran brokered by President Obama. Trump disclosed a phased reimposition of punitive sanctions, which will further damage an already weakened Iranian economy.

Among other things, Washington is imposing sanctions on the direct or indirect sale, supply, or transfer to or from Iran of graphite and raw or semi-finished metals such as aluminium and steel, and coal, Reuters reported. The US will separately re-impose sanctions on the provision of insurance and reinsurance.

Reuters cited sources at global trading companies predicting an imminent drop in Iranian exports due to banking issues, such as availability of trade finance.

A potential decline in oil volumes due to the sanctions could add to upward pressure on oil prices, which have gained almost 20 percent to around $78 per barrel since January. 

The price rise has also been bolstered by a decision by OPEC and Russia to cap production to reduce inventories that had built up during the boom that came to a halt in 2014.

Middle Eastern oil-producing countries have benefited this year from rising oil revenues, giving them headroom to increase spending to stimulate economies that faced austerity in the wake of the collapse of the crude price four years ago. 

Saudi Arabia’s first-quarter statement revealed increased government spending and a jump in central government receipts from new taxes, including VAT.


UN chief warns of risk of war in Gaza

Updated 3 min 21 sec ago
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UN chief warns of risk of war in Gaza

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning that Gaza is close to the brink of war and expressed shock over the number of Palestinians killed and wounded by Israeli live fire during protests, in a report obtained by AFP on Monday.
Guterres told the Security Council that he “unequivocally condemns the steps by all parties that have brought us to this dangerous and fragile place” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The report was sent to the council last week ahead of a meeting on Tuesday on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.
The violence in Gaza marks the most serious escalation between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 war.
“It is and should be a warning to all how close to the brink of war the situation is,” said Guterres.
“I am shocked by the number of deaths and injuries of Palestinians resulting from the use of live fire by Israel Defense Forces” since protests began on March 30, he said.
At least 132 Palestinian have been killed. The Red Cross says more than 13,000 have been wounded including 1,400 who suffered multiple gunshot wounds, many in the legs.
Israel has a responsibility to “exercise maximum restraint” and protect civilians in line with international humanitarian law, the UN chief wrote.
“The killing of children, as well as of clearly identified journalists and medical staffers by security forces during a demonstration are particularly unacceptable,” he added.
Two Palestinian journalists were killed while covering the protests in April while a 21-year-old medic was shot dead in early June.
Guterres renewed his call for an independent investigation of the shooting deaths in Gaza. Israel has rejected the appeal and argues that the use of force is justified to defend its borders.
The UN chief criticized Hamas and other militant groups for attempting to put explosives near the fence and for shooting rockets at Israel on May 29 and 30.
He singled out “senior Israeli government officials” for asserting that all Palestinians were affiliated with Hamas, signalling a “permissive Israeli policy toward the use of live fire against protesters.”
Israel’s settlement activities “continue unabated,” Guterres added, citing a May 30 decision by Israel to approve 3,500 housing units in the West Bank — the largest batch of new housing since June 2017.
The United Nations considers the expansion of settlements on land earmarked for a future Palestinian state to be illegal. Guterres said the construction must “cease immediately and completely.”