Washington’s unilateral decision to re-impose sanctions went into effect at midnight despite the objections of US- allies, particularly the European Union.

The first of two tranches of sanctions snapped back on Tuesday after the Trump administration’s decision to walk away from the multilateral agreement that placed limits on Iran’s nuclear programme in return for reducing trade barriers with the Islamic Republic.

President Trump’s early morning tweet confirming the Iran sanctions are back on with a further round due in November. While warning that anyone who does business with Iran will not be doing business with the United States.

 

Trumps Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “Right now, the United States is undertaking a diplomatic and financial pressure campaign to cut off the funds that the regime uses to enrich itself and support death and destruction. We have an obligation to put maximum pressure on the regime’s ability to generate and move money, and we will do so. At the centre of this campaign is the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran’s banking and energy sectors.”

The US says Iran’s only chance of escaping the sanctions would be to take up an offer to negotiate an even tougher deal with the Trump administration.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s responded to this saying, “The first step would be (for U.S. President Donald Trump) to show that he genuinely wants to engage in negotiations to solve a problem. What’s the meaning of negotiations when you impose sanctions at the same time? It’s like someone pulling a knife to stab a rival or an enemy in the arm while at the same time claiming ‘we should be talking and negotiating.’ The answer in such a case would be to say, ‘remove the knife from the arm and put the knife away.’ That person should come to the negotiating table and be logical about negotiating.”

EU countries have worked hard to keep Tehran in the deal called the JCPOA by promising to lessen the financial blow while persuading their companies not to pull out of Iran.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Frederica Mogherini says, “We are doing our best to keep Iran in the deal, to keep Iran benefiting from the economic benefits that the agreement brings to the people of Iran because we believe that this is the security interests of not only our region but also of the world. If there is one piece of international agreements on nuclear non-proliferation that is delivering, it has to be maintained.”

China and Russia have been critical of the US decision while the UN also weighed in but as usual stopped short of directly criticizing the Trump administration.

The Secretary General’s deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq says, “As you know the SG continues to  view the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a diplomatic achievement and continues to encourage support for all governments for that and we will continue to do so.”

Washington believes that despite Iran’s compliance with the deal, it does not go far enough to limit what it believes are Iran’s destabilizing actions in the Middle East. So, the waiting game begins. The measures that went into effect at midnight target Iran’s purchases of US dollars and sanctions metals trading, coal, industrial software and the auto sector.

The tougher tranche of sanctions is expected in November and will target Iran’s crucial oil exports.