Sanctions noose tightens on Iran

A man takes a glance at a newspaper with a picture of US president Donald Trump on the front page in this July 31, 2018 photo. Iran has been gripped by protests countrywide amid an economic crisis that is expected to worsen as economic sanctions by the US take effect Monday, August 6, 2018. (AFP/ATTA KENARE)
Updated 06 August 2018
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Sanctions noose tightens on Iran

  • New penalties begin today ... with more to follow in November 
  • Trump withdrew US support for a 2015 deal under which sanctions would be lifted in return for curbs to Iran’s nuclear program

LONDON: Iran is staring into the economic abyss as the US today restores crippling sanctions that have already sparked protests countrywide and sent the value of the Iranian rial tumbling.

The US Treasury Department’s new sanctions are wide-ranging and block Tehran from acquiring US dollars, and trading in gold and other precious and industrial metals. 

They also cover the automotive sector and debt markets — effectively preventing the country from seeking relief at home by raising international capital. The measures even extend to the sale of pistachio nuts and Persian rugs. Further sanctions targeting the banking and energy sectors will follow on Nov. 4.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran had treated its people “very poorly” as he wrapped up a three-day trip to Southeast Asia in Indonesia.

“President Trump has always said he is prepared to talk, but it’s important that Iran has to be committed to changing its ways in order for those discussions to prove of any value,” he said.

The crisis has led to protests around the country demanding regime change. Iranians complain that they face economic deprivation while their government squanders cash on military adventures in Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. 

Iran has witnessed angry protests over the past week over rampant inflation that is being made worse by the weakening of the Iranian currency.

Footage posted online showed people in Tehran shouting: “Death to the dictator,” in a reference to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

President Donald Trump announced in May that the US was withdrawing from an international accord struck in 2015 under which sanctions would be lifted in return for curbs to Iran’s nuclear program.

Meanwhile corporations have been racing to finalize deals before sanctions resumed and Iran bought five new commercial planes on Sunday. The ATR72-600 aircraft are made by a company jointly owned by European consortium Airbus and Italy’s Leonardo.

Tensions have risen in the Arabian Gulf and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps confirmed on Sunday they had held war games in the region in recent days. A US military spokesman said they had detected increased Iranian naval activity in the Gulf. 

 


Putin and Erdogan in Turkey to mark key phase in pipeline

Updated 19 November 2018
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Putin and Erdogan in Turkey to mark key phase in pipeline

  • The two leaders are marking the completion of the offshore part of TurkStream’s two lines
  • Turkey relies on imports for its energy needs and Russia is its top supplier for natural gas

ISTANBUL: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are in Istanbul to mark the completion of a key phase in a natural gas pipeline.
The two leaders on Monday are marking the completion of the offshore part of TurkStream’s two lines that will carry natural gas from Russia to Turkey.
The lines when finished are expected to supply Russian gas to European markets through Turkish territories. Together the two 930-kilometer (578-mile) lines via the Black Sea will carry 31.5 billion cubic meters (1.1 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas annually.
Turkey relies on imports for its energy needs and Russia is its top supplier for natural gas. It bought 28 billion cubic meters last year. That gas is currently transported through another line under the Black Sea and the onshore West Line through Ukraine, which is mired in conflict with Russia.