Published: Sat, August 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Syria strongly condemns United States sanctions on Iran: FM official

Syria strongly condemns United States sanctions on Iran: FM official

The first set of US sanctions against Iran that had been eased under the landmark nuclear accord went back into effect early Tuesday under an executive order signed by President Donald Trump, targeting financial transactions that involve USA dollars, Iran's automotive sector, the purchase of commercial planes and metals including gold. "I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!" Iran's markets were actually relatively buoyant, with the rial strengthening by 20 percent since Sunday after the government relaxed foreign exchange rules and allowed unlimited, tax-free gold and currency imports.

When the second round of sanctions take effect, Iran's oil industry could take a major dive.

The stiff economic sanctions ratchet up pressure on the Islamic Republic despite statements of deep dismay from European allies, three months after Trump pulled the USA out of the global accord limiting Iran's nuclear activities. The strained Iranian economy is bracing for the impact of new US sanctions that went into effect Tuesday.

Trump decided this year to pull out of the agreement, ignoring pleas from the other world powers that had co-sponsored the deal, including Washington's main European allies the UK, France and Germany, as well as Russian Federation and China.

The sanctions, which were previously lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal, severely limit Iran's ability to buy US currency and issue sovereign debt, and also place restrictions on trade with Iran in aluminum and steel, and the automotive and airline industries.

But that has proven hard: European companies have quit Iran, arguing that they can not risk their U.S. business.

"If the ayatollahs want to get out from under the squeeze, they should come and sit down". However, the Iranian President also said that he was willing to hold talks with Washington to resolve the matter.

The other signatories to the deal were sticking with the accord.

Brent crude oil futures were up 75 cents to $74.50 per barrel at 1337 GMT and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 32 cents at $69.33 a barrel.

The foreign ministry official labeled the United States sanctions unilateral and illegal, adding that the administration of President Donald Trump has arrogant and despotic tendencies.

In a televised speech from Tehran on Monday night, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani described new USA sanctions as "psychological warfare" and said he would only engage in new talks with the U.S.

"If you're an enemy and you stab the other person with a knife, and then you say you want negotiations, then the first thing you have to do is remove the knife", Rouhani said, according to AFP.

The nuclear deal is closely associated in Iran with Rouhani, a relative moderate who won two landslide elections on promises to open up the economy to the outside world. In a statement on Monday, the European Union, the UK, France and Germany said they "deeply regret" the USA action. However, some countries might still be determined to find ways around the sanctions to buy oil, including China and India, two of Iran's biggest customers.

"(This) will definitely make daily life harder for Iranians", said Saeed Leylaz, a Tehran-based economist and political analyst.

The sanctions, which came into effect Monday at midnight east coast time, are the result of the U.S.'s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which came with a deadline for businesses to stop any business with Iran when it was announced in May.

Among large European companies that have suspended plans to invest in Iran are France's oil major Total and its big auto manufacturers PSA and Renault.

Months of uncertainty surrounding the sanctions have already further hurt Iran's economy.

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