More sanctions likely on Iranian regime, says US national security adviser

US National Security Adviser John Bolton vows no letup in punitive measures against Iran. (AFP file photo)
Updated 10 November 2018

More sanctions likely on Iranian regime, says US national security adviser

  • Bolton says two rounds of unilateral US sanctions had had a “quite significant” effect on the Iranian economy and the country’s actions abroad
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts that the sanctions will cause Iran’s economy to contract 1.5 percent this year and 3.6 percent next year

PARIS: US National Security Adviser John Bolton said that more sanctions were possible on Iran just days after a new round of measures touted as the most punishing ever on Tehran entered into force.

Bolton said two rounds of unilateral US sanctions introduced by President Donald Trump in August and most recently on Monday had had a “quite significant” effect on the Iranian economy and the country’s actions abroad.

“I think that you’re going to see even more sanctions coming into play over time and much tighter enforcement of the sanctions,” Bolton said in Paris.

Asked what would be the target of the sanctions, he replied: “There are other things we can do in the terrorism and counterterrorism area.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts that the sanctions will cause Iran’s economy to contract 1.5 percent this year and 3.6 percent next year — pain that Trump has boasted about.

“We’ve seen indications that it has affected their belligerent activity in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Not enough yet, but it’s beginning to have that effect,” Bolton said.

“We’ve seen a continuation and exacerbation of political discontent inside Iran. That opposition continues to manifest itself. Economically the Iranian currency is going through the floor, inflation has quadrupled and the country is clearly in recession.”

He said “the objective is still to drive Iranians exports of oil to zero” despite waivers given to the biggest buyers of Iranian oil, including China, India and South Korea.

“It’s with some satisfaction that I noticed today the price of oil is down. We have worked with the Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other producers to make sure production is up so that historic buyers of Iranian oil are not disadvantaged,” he added.

Bolton spoke as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that US sanctions have had no effect on Iran’s economy because Washington had already practically reimposed them earlier.

“The sanctions have had no impact on our economy because America had already used all the weapons at its disposal and there was nothing new to use against us,” Rouhani said in remarks carried live on state television on Saturday.

“They just issued a long list of banks, their branches ... and airlines and their planes. And this shows that they are merely trying to affect the Iranian nation psychologically,” Rouhani said.

The US said it would temporarily allow eight importers to keep buying Iranian oil when it reimposed sanctions last Monday aimed at forcing Tehran to curb its nuclear, missile and regional activities.

“It has now become clear that America cannot cut Iran’s oil exports to zero,” Rouhani added, speaking after a weekly meeting with the heads of the parliament and the judiciary.


Man shot dead as Lebanese army disperse protesters

Updated 13 November 2019

Man shot dead as Lebanese army disperse protesters

  • The death is the second during the nationwide protests that have paralyzed the country

BEIRUT: A man was shot dead south of Beirut after the army opened fire to disperse protesters blocking roads, Lebanese state media said Wednesday, nearly a month into an unprecedented anti-graft street movement.
The victim “succumbed to his injuries” in hospital, the National News Agency said, the second death during the nationwide protests that have paralyzed the country.
The army said in a statement that it had arrested a soldier after he opened fire in the coastal town of Khalde, just below the capital, to clear protesters “injuring one person.”
Protesters have been demanding the ouster of a generation of politicians seen by demonstrators as inefficient and corrupt, in a movement that has been largely peaceful.
On Tuesday night, street protests erupted after President Michel Aoun defended the role of his allies, the Shiite movement Hezbollah, in Lebanon’s government.
Protesters responded by cutting off several major roads in and around Beirut, the northern city of Tripoli and the eastern region of Bekaa.
The Progressive Socialist Party, led by influential Druze politician Walid Jumblatt, said in a statement that the man shot dead was one its members.
A long-time opponent of President Michel Aoun, Jumblatt appealed to his supporters to stay calm.
“In spite of what happened, we have no other refuge than the state. If we lose hope in the state, we enter chaos,” he said.
The government stepped down on October 29 but stayed on in a caretaker capacity and no overt efforts have so far been made to form a new one, as an economic crisis brings the country to the brink of default.
On Tuesday morning, dozens of protesters had gathered near the law courts in central Beirut and tried to stop judges and lawyers from going to work, demanding an independent judiciary.
Employees at the two main mobile operators, Alfa and Touch, started a nationwide strike.
Many schools and universities were closed, as were banks after their employees called for a general strike over alleged mistreatment by customers last week.

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The UN’s special coordinator for the country, Jan Kubis, urged Lebanon to accelerate the formation of a new government that would be able “to appeal for support from Lebanon’s international partners.”
“The financial and economic situation is critical, and the government and other authorities cannot wait any longer to start addressing it,” he said.
The leaderless protest movement first erupted after a proposed tax on calls via free phone apps, but it has since morphed into an unprecedented cross-sectarian outcry against everything from perceived state corruption to rampant electricity cuts.
Demonstrators say they are fed up with the same families dominating government institutions since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.
In his televised address on Tuesday, Aoun proposed a government that includes both technocrats and politicians.
“A technocratic government can’t set the policies of the country” and would not “represent the people,” he said in the interview on Lebanese television.
Asked if he was facing pressure from outside Lebanon not to include the Iran-backed Hezbollah in a new government, he did not deny it.
But, he said, “they can’t force me to get rid of a party that represents at least a third of Lebanese,” referring to the weight of the Shiite community.
The latest crisis in Lebanon comes at a time of high tensions between Iran and the United States, which has sanctioned Hezbollah members in Lebanon.
Forming a government typically takes months in Lebanon, with protracted debate on how best to maintain a fragile balance between religious communities.
The World Bank says around a third of Lebanese live in poverty and has warned the country’s struggling economy could further deteriorate if a new cabinet is not formed rapidly.