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USA drops the sanctions hammer on Iran ... again
05 November 2018, 04:56 | Austin Hogan
Iran’s Khamenei ‘World Opposes Every Decision Made By Trump’ Getty 4 Nov 2018
The restoration of United States sanctions on Monday targeting Iran'soil sales and banking sectors is part of a wider effort by Trump to force Tehran to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes outright, as well as support for proxy forces in conflicts across the Middle East.
And Washington has now reimposed all the sanctions which were suspended in 2015 - hitting crucial parts of Iran's economy including its lucrative oil industry.
India's oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan confirmed on Saturday that the country, Iran's top oil client after China, had won a waiver from the U.S. sanctions after a "forceful campaign" by prime minister Narendra Modi.
"Even if the United States grants exemptions, Washington will demand that the volume imported from Iran be significantly reduced", said UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo, who expects prices to rise.
Asked if the U.S. had firm commitments from India and China to stop all oil purchases from Iran within six months, Pompeo replied: "Watch what we do".
South Korea, a USA ally and one of Asia's biggest buyers of Iranian oil, asked Washington for "maximum flexibility" last week, after some of its construction firms cancelled energy-related contracts in the Islamic Republic due to financing difficulties.
Israel has been particularly concerned with Iran's alleged increasing military presence in Syria, with high-level officials alarmed over Tehran's growing influence in the region.
Iran's Asian friends as well as Europeans have expressed their keenness to continue trade with Tehran after the United States reinstated its "toughest sanctions ever" on the Islamic Republic on Monday.
Iranian state television aired footage of defense drills taking place in the country's north through Tuesday as President Hassan Rouhani said the nation faces a "war situation" against a "bullying enemy".
"Switzerland is committed to safeguarding Swiss economic interests and closely follows the development of the situation. We are prepared to resist any pressure", Rouhani said. "Until then, our historic sanctions will remain in full force", he said.
It was in May, that Trump had announced that the U.S. had withdrawn from what he described as "the frightful, one-sided" Iran nuclear deal.
But proponents as well as the other parties to the deal - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the European Union - have vehemently defended it.
Iran's economy was already suffering from major structural problems - including major banking issues - before Mr Trump walked out of the nuclear deal.
Asked about it on "Fox News Sunday", Pompeo answered, "The Iranian banks that engage in sanctionable behavior will be sanctioned by the Department of Treasury, period, full stop". He qualified that transactions for "humanitarian" purposes would be exempt, as they had been in the past, but cautioned that "banks must be very careful that these are not disguised transactions".
Trump said the deal was weak and favoured Iran.
In an interview with "Fox News Sunday", Pompeo refused to reveal which countries received waivers from US sanctions to continue importing Iranian oil. But Brent crude was steady at $72.83 by 1230 GMT.
According to Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates, trade wars are also playing their part in deflating energies demand: "The magnitude of recent selling is strongly suggesting that global oil demand is weaker than expected as a result of tariff issues, especially between the USA and China".
Rouhani then maintained that the country's exports have increased in the past seven months compared to the same period a year ago, saying the growth occurred despite the US' attempt to hamper Iran's economic activities.
The White House has also announced plans to drive Iranian oil exports down to zero and launch a campaign of "maximum economic and diplomatic pressure" on Iran.
"Iran is a much different country than it was when I took office", said Trump, adding: "They wanted to take over the whole Middle East. Right now they just want to survive", he told a rally in Tennessee, Reutersreported.
Trump speaks by phone with China's Xi on trade
Kudlow also added that Trump "could pull the trigger" on additional tariffs on Chinese imports, depending on how talks go. Bloomberg reported on Friday that Trump wants to reach a trade agreement with China at the G20 meeting.