WASHINGTON – The Donald Trump administration moved Monday to reimpose economic sanctions on Iran, a long-scheduled step that comes amid military threats between the two countries and Trump’s offer to talk about a new nuclear agreement with Tehran.
“As we continue applying maximum economic pressure on the Iranian regime, I remain open to reaching a more comprehensive deal that addresses the full range of the regime’s malign activities, including its ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism,” Trump said in a written statement.
The U.S. is renewing economic sanctions that had been lifted by the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by President Barack Obama’s administration. Trump withdrew from the pact in May, calling it inadequate and claiming it would not prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons.
In his statement, Trump said the “horrible” nuclear deal “threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos.”
Other parties to the agreement objected to the U.S. withdrawal, saying it would only encourage Iran to pursue nuclear weapons and further destabilize the Middle East.
A group of European foreign ministers said in a statement Monday that they “deeply regret” the renewed U.S. sanctions, and said that Iran was abiding by the agreement when Trump withdrew.
The Iran agreement “is working and delivering on its goal” of limiting Iran’s nuclear program,” the foreign ministers said.
It is not known how much the sanctions will hurt Iran. Other nations that signed the Iran nuclear agreement still support it, and are expected to maintain economic cooperation with Tehran.
The “snap-back” sanctions will affect any entity that trades with Iran on products ranging from gold and steel to automobiles. The Trump administration is planning to renew other sanctions in three months, including ones targeting Iran’s lucrative oil industry.
“All remaining United States nuclear-related sanctions will resume effective November 5, 2018,” Trump said in his statement. “These include sanctions targeting Iran’s energy sector, including petroleum-related transactions, as well as transactions by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran.”
Trump and aides said the sanctions will further damage Iran’s economy, putting more pressure on its leaders to seek a new agreement through talks with Trump.
Monday’s announcement followed a series of threats and counterthreats in recent weeks between Trump and Tehran, as well as Trump’s offer to meet with Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani about a new nuclear agreement.
Last week, Trump told reporters, “I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet,” but added, “I don’t know that they’re ready yet, they’re having a hard time right now.” He also said any new agreement would have to better than the “waste of paper” that made up the first one.
Under the 2015 agreement, long opposed by Trump and other Republicans, the U.S. and its allies pulled back sanctions on Iran as it gave up the means to make nuclear weapons.
Last month, replying to what he considered provocative language from Iran, Trump issued an all-caps tweet that said, “NEVER EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKE OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.”
Trump was responding to Rouhani, who had said earlier that day that “American(s) must understand well that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”
After Trump’s threat, a senior Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, said, “you will start the war but we will end it.“