Washington has vowed to impose the “toughest” sanctions ever against Tehran starting November 5, 2018 after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal earlier in the year. At the same time, the US revealed eight states that would be allowed to do business with Iran for a certain period of time.
The US imposed sanctions on a number of Iranian entities and individuals on November 5, following Washington’s exit from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, but offered waivers to China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey.
“We have decided to issue temporary allotments to specific circumstances to a handful of countries responsible for specific circumstances and to ensure a well-supplied oil market,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
Namely, US Treasury has announced that some 50 Iranian banks and their subsidiaries abroad, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran and 23 of its subsidiaries, as well as 200 individuals and ships in the country’s shipping and energy industries, have fallen under the effect of sanctions. Moreover, the US has imposed sanctions against “Iran Air,” the country’s largest carrier and over 65 of its aircraft. Overall, some 700 individuals and entities have been affected by the new US sanctions.
“Today, in its largest ever single-day action targeting the Iranian regime, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned more than 700 individuals, entities, aircraft, and vessels,” the official statement said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that 20 countries have reduced their oil imports from Iran, cutting Tehran’s exports by 1 million barrels. He also revealed that three civilian nuclear energy projects in Iran would be spared US sanctions, including the Bushehr power plant. Pompeo promised to provide more details on the list later.
US Treasury Secretary Promises Financial Isolation And Economic Stagnation for Iran
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin warned that Washington would be watching Iran with “laser focus.” He added that the pressure of sanctions on Tehran would continue unless it changes its policies.
“Treasury’s imposition of unprecedented financial pressure on Iran should make clear to the Iranian regime that they will face mounting financial isolation and economic stagnation until they fundamentally change their destabilizing behavior,” he said.
Mnuchin also expressed hope that European states would adhere to the American sanctions against Iran, but noted that certain transactions, such as humanitarian ones, would still be allowed.
US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told reporters on November 5 that the US doesn’t view sanctions against Iran’s energy sector as a risk to the global energy market. He claimed that the gap from Iranian oil would be made up for by an increase in production by the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and other countries.
The global financial messaging system SWIFT, based in Belgium, issued a statement on November 5 saying that it would suspend access to certain Iranian banks in the interest of the “stability and integrity of the global financial system,” but did not to US sanctions as the reason for the move. However, the service, which is essential for international bank-to-bank transactions, didn’t specify which Iranian banks would be affected.
“This step, while regrettable, has been taken in the interest of the stability and integrity of the wider global financial system,” statement said.
Earlier, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin warned that the US would subject SWIFT to sanctions like any other entity if it continues to work with Iranian banks that fell under sanctions on November 5.
“SWIFT is no different than any other entity. We have advised SWIFT that it must disconnect any Iranian financial institutions that we designate as soon as technologically feasible to avoid sanctions exposure,” Mnuchin said.
Iran Vows to Continue Selling Oil Despite US Sanctions
Prior to the official announcement of new US sanctions against Tehran, the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech on November 5 that the Islamic Republic would continue selling oil even to states that haven’t received waivers from the US Treasury Department. He also slammed US sanctions as a violation of international law and promised to “break [them] with honor.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused Washington of defying the UN Security Council and “bullying,” adding that in the end it would be the US and not Iran that would be isolated. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi also dubbed US attempts at exerting economic pressure on Tehran as “futile.”