US economic sanctions against Iran back in effect

President Donald Trump delivers remarks about the economy on the South Lawn of the White House Friday

President Donald Trump delivers remarks about the economy on the South Lawn of the White House Friday

U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo said sanctions are an important pillar in American policy toward Iran and will remain in place until the Iranian government radically changes course.

A second batch of USA sanctions targeting Iran's oil sector and central bank are to be reimposed in early November.

It is three months since Mr Trump pulled the United States out of the worldwide accord limiting Iran's nuclear activities.

"This is an indication of how strongly we feel that the Iranian nuclear weapons program, its ballistic missile program, it's support for terrorism, it's belligerent activity in the Middle East have to stop", Bolton said. But, he said, the reimposed sanctions would endanger "ordinary Iranians".

There have been ongoing rumours that Trump and Rouhani could meet in NY in September at the United Nations General Assembly - though Rouhani reportedly rejected U.S. overtures for a meeting at last year's event. European allies said they "deeply regret" the USA action.

However, he downplayed the possibility. "I think they are still bluffing", he said.

Iran accused the USA of reneging on the nuclear agreement, signed by the Obama administration, and of causing recent Iranian economic unrest.

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"They've got to behave like a normal country".

He said that "there's no evidence today of a change in their behavior", and in the meantime "we're going to enforce the sanctions". The sanctions affect financial transactions that involve USA dollars, Iran's automotive sector, the purchase of commercial planes and metals including gold.

But Ali Vaez, the director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group, warned against inflating the impact of the new sanctions.

"The only hammer available right now is economic, and using that, there is a good change Iran will fall to its knees", he said. "The chilling effect of these sanctions has already taken its toll on the Iranian economy, so the sky will not fall at midnight tonight", he told The National.

Mr Vaez also dismissed the possibility of a Trump-Rouhani meeting.

The Tehran Times on Sunday quoted President Hassan Rouhani's deputy director for political affairs, Majid Takht Ravanchi, insisting that Europe must take firm action to circumvent the more devastating American sanctions before they go into full effect on November 4.

US trade with Iran stood at $258 million (Dh948m) in 2016, according to the US Census Bureau, while exports to Iran from the European Union, which will be affected by secondary sanctions, were worth $13 billion past year.

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