US reimposes all Iran sanctions lifted under nuclear deal

Mike Pompeo said eight countries are getting waivers so they can continue temporarily importing Iranian oil. (File photo / Reuters)
Updated 03 November 2018
0

US reimposes all Iran sanctions lifted under nuclear deal

  • The sanctions list widely expands the people and entities targeted and focus on Iran’s shipping, financial and energy sectors
  • US Treasury will also demand the SWIFT global financial network stop servicing Iran's banking industry

LONDON: A raft of new US sanctions against Iran were announced on Friday, as it emerged that eight territories have been temporarily exempted from restrictions on importing oil from the country.

The move means all the sanctions on Tehran that had been lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal have been reimposed. The second wave of sanctions, that will come into force on Monday, cover Iran’s shipping, financial and energy sectors. 

The US will add 700 Iranian individuals and entities to its blacklist and also pressure the global SWIFT banking network to cut off Tehran, US officials said.

Donald Trump said Iran was going to take a very big hit from the sanctions after earlier posting a Game of Thrones - style image with the words “Sanctions are Coming.”

The aim is to pressure Tehran to halt its nuclear activities and support for terrorism in the region, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

“Our ultimate aim is to compel Iran to permanently abandon its well-documented outlaw activities and behave as a normal country,” he added.

The new measures come six months after the US president withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal struck between world powers and Iran.

Pompeo said the US will grant exemptions to eight “jurisdictions” that have pledged to, or have already, cut back on purchases of Iranian oil.

He did not name them, but they include India, Iraq, Japan, South Korea, and possibly China, according to reports. Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez confirmed that Turkey had been told it would be granted a waiver.

------

READ MORE:

OPINION: Sanctions on Iran may be tricky to enforce

------

The US told Iraq that it will be allowed to keep importing gas, energy supplies and food items from Iran, Reuters reported. The waiver is conditional on Iraq not paying Iran for the imports in US dollars. Iraq’s economy is deeply entwined with Iran.

News of the waivers pushed oil prices down by about 1 percent on Friday, amid investor concerns over oversupply.

Iran said that it had no concerns over the reimposition of sanctions. “America will not be able to carry out any measure against our great and brave nation ... We have the knowledge and the capability to manage the country’s economic affairs,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi told state TV.

France, Germany, Britain and the European Union, which are all trying to save the nuclear deal, issued a joint condemnation of the US move.

“We deeply regret the reimposition of sanctions by the United States stemming from their withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action," the statement said.

The deal was aimed at limiting Iran's nuclear capabilities in exchange for sanctions relief.

Peter Kiernan, lead energy analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said there were fears that a complete shut off of Iranian oil exports could “cause a spike in prices and leave oil-consuming economies scrambling to buy oil elsewhere.”

He added: “Saudi Arabia may be able to partially offset substantial Iranian supply losses, but not completely, leaving the market extremely vulnerable to a supply interruption from another source.

Therefore to some extent the Trump administration has had to show to some flexibility as larger oil buyers such as India and China especially have been unwilling to immediately cease all purchases from Iran.”

David Butter, associate fellow for the Middle East and North Africa program at think-tank Chatham House, said that the waivers mark a “limited reprieve” for Iran.

“The waivers are only a partial concession as proceeds of sales would go into escrow accounts that would be used solely to finance Iranian imports from the buyer of the oil,” he told Arab News.

“The US appears to have judged that the costs of refusing waivers would be too high in terms of impairing relations with major countries and driving up oil prices.”

Robin Mills, CEO of Qamar Energy, a consultancy based in Dubai, agreed that the waivers were designed to stop oil prices soaring.

“I don’t see this as a sign of softening (on the part of the US), but as an acknowledgement that some countries are determined to continue buying Iranian oil and that the oil market would suffer from too sharp a withdrawal, leading to uncomfortably higher prices,” he told Arab News.


Assad calls on Syria’s Druze minority to do military service

Updated 14 min 17 sec ago
0

Assad calls on Syria’s Druze minority to do military service

  • Since the conflict erupted in 2011, thousands of Druze, especially those in Sweida, have refused to be conscripted, instead joining local militias promising to protect the region
  • The main way the Druze community could support the army was to do military service, Assad said

DAMASCUS: Syrian President Bashar Assad has called on the country’s Druze community to do military service, days after members of the minority were released following a mass abduction in July by the Daesh group.
Sweida province is the heartland of Syria’s Druze minority, who made up around three percent of the country’s pre-war population — or around 700,000 people.
Since the conflict erupted in 2011, thousands of Druze, especially those in Sweida, have refused to be conscripted, instead joining local militias promising to protect the region.
Damascus has so far turned a blind eye as long as the Druze militias do not ally with rebel groups.
Speaking to a group of former hostages and their families on Tuesday, Assad thanked the army, saying that without them “the abducted people would not have been freed.”
“We owe a great debt to (the army) and as for you... your responsibility is even greater,” he said in a video published on the presidency’s official Telegram account.
The main way the Druze community could support the army was to do military service, Assad added.
The Druze, followers of a secretive offshoot of Islam, are considered heretics by the Sunni extremists of Daesh.
Daesh militants abducted about 30 people — mostly women and children — from Sweida in late July during the deadliest attack on the Druze during the Syrian civil war.
Some of the hostages died while others were freed last month in a prisoner swap. The remaining 19, mostly women and children, were released last week.
Before the war began, Syrian men aged 18 and older had to serve up to two years in the army, after which they became reserves available for call-up in times of crisis.
In the past seven years, fatalities, injuries and defections are estimated to have halved the once 300,000-strong army.
To compensate, the force has relied on reservists and militias as well as indefinitely extending military service for young conscripts.