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US Reimposes Sanctions on Iran; Israel Tells Europe ‘Time Has Come to Stop Talking’

US President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order on Iran Sanctions. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

United States President Donald Trump announced the first stage of renewed American sanctions on Iran on Monday, ahead of the official reimposition of sanctions at midnight on Tuesday. The anticipated move follows Trump’s decision in May to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal—also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“Since the deal was reached, Iran’s aggression has only increased. The regime has used the windfall of newly accessible funds it received under the JCPOA to build nuclear-capable missiles, fund terrorism, and fuel conflict across the Middle East and beyond,” said Trump in a statement posted to the White House website. “…By exiting the JCPOA, the United States is able to protect its national security by applying maximum economic pressure on the Iranian regime.”

The initial round of reset sanctions focuses on cars, precious metals and Iranian currency, according to Trump’s comments. In November, banking and Iran’s energy industry—including oil—will be targeted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Trump for making the move on Monday, calling it an “important decision.”

“It represents the determination to curb Iran’s aggression in the region and its ongoing intention to arm itself with nuclear weapons,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office. “I call upon the countries of Europe, which talk about stopping Iran, to join this measure. The time has come to stop talking and to take action, and that is exactly what the US has done and what Europe should do.”

Trump threatened those who don’t “wind down activities with Iran” that they are risking “severe consequences.” It remains unclear how that will play out.

The European Union published a press release on Monday on the European Commission website announcing the establishment of a “blocking statute” in opposition to the US sanctions designed to “mitigate their impact on the interests of EU companies doing legitimate business in Iran.”

The statute prohibits EU persons from complying with the US sanctions without an exception, and also provides for recovery of damages caused by the sanctions, among other actions.

While Europe is striving to scuttle the renewed American sanctions, Trump declared that the US is succeeding in convincing others to cut Iranian business.

“I am pleased that many international firms have already announced their intent to leave the Iranian market, and several countries have indicated that they will reduce or end imports of Iranian crude oil,” said Trump’s statement. “We urge all nations to take such steps to make clear that the Iranian regime faces a choice: either change its threatening, destabilizing behavior and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation.”

Despite the move to renew sanctions, Trump hasn’t closed the door on a new Iran nuclear deal, saying. “I remain open to reaching a more comprehensive deal that addresses the full range of the regime’s malign activities, including its ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism.”

Last week, Trump tweeted his standing offer to meet with Iran—while highlighting their economic woes if they do not: “Iran, and it’s economy, is going very bad, and fast! I will meet, or not meet, it doesn’t matter – it is up to them!”

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, August 6, 2018)

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