Trump fulfils vow to hit Iran hard

Mr Trump on Monday signed the executive order intended to impose “maximum economic pressure” on Iran, after he announced the United States’ withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May.

The 2015 accord, negotiated by Barack Obama alongside Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and China, lifted sanctions on Tehran in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

The US President today repeated his assertion it was a “horrible, one-sided deal” that allowed the Iranian government to support violence in the Middle East.

The reimposition of sanctions by the US will take effect at 12.01am on Tuesday, severely denting Iran’s trade in precious metals and the automotive sector.

The sanctions will remain in place unless Tehran ends its support for extremists and its enrichment of uranium, according to US officials.

Donald Trump has reimposed economic sanctions on Iran. Picture: AP Photo/John Minchillo

Donald Trump has reimposed economic sanctions on Iran. Picture: AP Photo/John MinchilloSource:AP

“The president has been very clear: none of this needs to happen,” a senior administration official told reporters in a briefing. “He will meet with Iranian leadership at anytime to discuss a real, comprehensive deal that will contain their regional ambitions, will end their malign behaviour and deny them any paths to a nuclear weapon.”

Harsher sanctions will follow on November 5, when the US will seek to cut off Iran’s oil exports and block shipping.

Mr Trump has said those who continue to support the Iranian economy “risk severe consequences” in terms of trade with the US.

But Iran claimed on Monday the US was “isolated” in its hostility. While some European businesses are stepping back from dealing with the nation, it will continue lucrative activities including exporting oil to China.

China, India and Turkey have indicated they are not willing to entirely cut their Iranian energy purchases.

“American bullying and political pressures may cause some disruption, but the fact is that in the current world, America is isolated,” foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani insisted the United States was ‘isolated’ in its hostility. Picture: AFP Photo / Atta Kenare

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani insisted the United States was ‘isolated’ in its hostility. Picture: AFP Photo / Atta KenareSource:AFP

The EU issued a “blocking statute” on Monday to protect European businesses from the impact of sanctions. European ministers said the Iran deal was “crucial for the security of Europe, the region and the entire world”.

The EU, Britain, France and Germany said in a statement: “We deeply regret the reimposition of sanctions by the US.

“We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran.”

Iran is generally believed to be upholding its side of the bargain, but the Trump administration pointed to the country’s destabilising activities in Syria and other Middle Eastern nations as the reason for its withdrawal from the agreement.

Mr Trump wants a new deal that goes beyond curbing Iran’s nuclear program, and ends what the US calls its “malign influence” in the region, including its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and militant groups in Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories.

Iran’s currency has lost around half its value since Mr Trump’s announcement, with investors fearing US penalties.

The move has stoked tensions in Iran, which has seen days of protests and strikes over water shortages, high prices and anger at the political system.

The first round of sanctions will come into effect on Tuesday, after Mr Trump announced the United States was withdrawing from the nuclear accord in May. Picture: AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan

The first round of sanctions will come into effect on Tuesday, after Mr Trump announced the United States was withdrawing from the nuclear accord in May. Picture: AFP Photo / Mandel NganSource:AFP

Reporting restrictions have made it impossible to verify the claims coming through social media, but journalists confirmed a heavy presence of riot police on Sunday night in the town of Karaj, west of Tehran, which has been a focal point of unrest, and said mobile internet had been cut in the area.

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani is due to give a televised address to the nation later on Monday to outline plans for tackling the currency decline and impact of sanctions.

His government eased foreign exchange rules on Sunday, allowing unlimited tax-free currency and gold imports, and reopening exchange bureaus after a disastrous attempt to fix the value of the rial in April led to widespread black-market corruption.

Two countries that have welcomed increased pressure on Iran are regional rivals Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman described the renewed sanctions as “a courageous decision which will be remembered for generations.”

Mr Zarif suggested it was hard to imagine Mr Rouhani meeting with Mr Trump after he tore up an agreement on which world powers had spent the “longest hours in negotiating history”.

“Do you think this person (Mr Trump) is a good and suitable person to negotiate with? Or is he just showing off?” he said.

There have been rumours the two leaders could meet later this month in New York, where they are attending the UN General Assembly — although Mr Rouhani reportedly rejected US overtures for a meeting at last year’s event.

Mr Trump again raised the idea of meeting this weekend, tweeting: “I will meet, or not meet, it doesn’t matter — it is up to them!”

It came less than a fortnight after a wild exchange between the presidents, with Mr Rouhani warning of the “mother of all wars” and Mr Trump responding with a Twitter tirade against Iran’s “DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE”.

Mr Rouhani dismissed the threat to Iran’s oil exports, saying the country held a dominant position in the region’s a major shipping waterway. “Anyone who understands the rudiments of politics doesn’t say ‘we will stop Iran’s oil exports,” he told ISNA news agency. “Mr Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret.”

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