Deadline midnight: Iran on the brink of international isolation

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A handout picture provided by the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Nov. 3, 2018 shows a crowd cheering as he delivers a speech during a meeting with Iranian students in the capital Tehran. (AFP PHOTO / Handout by the khmanenei.ir site)
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Motorcyclists wait for customers in front of the grand bazar in the Iranian capital Tehran on Nov. 3, 2018. As the deadline for US sanctions neared, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that President Donald Trump has "disgraced" US prestige and would be the ultimate loser from renewing sanctions on the Islamic republic. (AFP / ATTA KENARE)
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Iranians shop in the Tehran's grand bazar on Nov. 3, 2018. As the deadline for US sanctions neared, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that President Donald Trump has "disgraced" US prestige and would be the ultimate loser from renewing sanctions on the Islamic republic. (AFP / ATTA KENARE)
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Iranians shop at a market street in the capital Tehran on November 3, 2018. As the deadline for US sanctions neared, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that President Donald Trump has "disgraced" US prestige and would be the ultimate loser from renewing sanctions on the Islamic republic. (AFP / ATTA KENARE)
Updated 04 November 2018
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Deadline midnight: Iran on the brink of international isolation

  • US sanctions will decimate Tehran’s oil export trade and deny its banks access to global finance
  • “I will stand against you,” Iran's international terror campaign architect tells Trump

JEDDAH: When the clocks strike midnight on the US east coast on Sunday, Iran will become the world’s economic pariah state.

US President Donald Trump will reintroduce tough sanctions on Iran’s vital oil sales and banking sectors to try to force Tehran into negotiations to scrap its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and end its regional meddling.

Most international sanctions were lifted in 2016 in a deal Iran signed with world powers the year before to curb its uranium enrichment program, widely seen as a disguised effort to develop a nuclear bomb.

But Trump denounced the deal as flawed in Iran’s favor, and withdrew in May. His decision was welcomed throughout the Middle East.

Iran’s “aggressive policies” were “largely responsible” for the reimposition of US sanctions, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said on Saturday.

In Iran, the sanctions were greeted with boastful defiance. “The world opposes every decision made by Trump,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said. “America’s goal has been to re-establish the domination it had before 1979 but it has failed.”

Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, which runs the foreign operations of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, responded to a Game of Thrones-inspired tweet by Trump on Friday that warned: “Sanctions are Coming.”

“I will stand against you,” Soleimani said on Instagram.

Iran has been trying for six months with the EU to create a financial mechanism to avoid the sanctions. Diplomats said the new EU mechanism to pay for Iranian exports should be legally in place by Nov. 4, but not operational until next year. In addition, no country has volunteered to host the entity, which is delaying the process.

A senior French diplomat said on Saturday there was no way any trade with the mechanism could be conducted before the end of 2018, and no other countries, including China, would be part of it.

The US has given eight countries — including India, Japan and possibly China —waivers to continue importing Iranian oil to avoid upsetting the global market.

Turkey said on Saturday it had received initial indications from Washington that it would be granted a waiver, but is awaiting clarification on Monday.

The sanctions are “aimed at depriving the Iranian regime of the revenues it uses to spread death and destruction around the world,” US 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.”


Netanyahu to cut US trip short after rocket attack near Tel Aviv

Updated 14 min 12 sec ago
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Netanyahu to cut US trip short after rocket attack near Tel Aviv

  • Netanyahu said the incident will evoke a strong Israeli reaction
  • Palestinian rockets rarely reach an area at that distance from Gaza

MISHMERET/JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that he is to cut short his trip to the United States after a rocket attack near Tel Aviv.

“In light of the security events I decided to cut short my visit to the US,” Netanyahu said, calling the attack a heinous crime that would draw a strong Israeli response.

He said he would meet with President Donald Trump in the coming hours and then fly back immediately.

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a house in a community north of Tel Aviv and caused it to catch fire, wounding seven Israelis, authorities and medics said.

Israel’s army said the rocket was fired from the Palestinian enclave run by Islamist movement Hamas, raising the risk of another escalation between the two sides just ahead of April 9 Israeli elections.

The house hit was located in the community of Mishmeret, police said. Medics said they were treating one Israeli with moderate wounds and four others injured lightly.

Mishmeret is more than 80 kilometers from the Gaza Strip and rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave at that distance is rare.

Monday’s incident comes after two rockets were fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv — also rare — on March 14.

No damage or injuries were caused, but Israel responded to that and further rocket fire by hitting what it said were around 100 Hamas targets across the Gaza Strip.

Four Palestinians were reported wounded in those strikes.

Both Hamas and its ally Islamic Jihad denied they were behind the March 14 rocket fire toward Tel Aviv, raising the possibility they were launched by fringe groups.

Israel’s military said they were launched by Hamas, but later there were Israeli media reports that the army’s preliminary assessment was that they had been fired by mistake during maintenance work.

The reports were a sign that Israel was seeking to calm tensions. The military had refused to comment on the reports at the time.

Monday’s rocket comes just days ahead of the March 30 one-year anniversary of Palestinian protests and clashes along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel.

An informal truce between Hamas and Israel had led to relative calm along the border of the blockaded strip, but recent weeks have seen another uptick in violence.