WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration expects economic sanctions that it is re-imposing on Iran this week to have a significant impact on the Iranian economy and will aggressively enforce the measures, senior U.S. administration officials said on Monday.
FILE PHOTO: A man walks past an anti-U.S. mural in Tehran, Iran October 13, 2017. Nazanin Tabatabaee Yazdi/TIMA via REUTERS
The so-called snapback sanctions, due to come into force early on Tuesday, would target Iran’s purchases of U.S. dollars, metals trading and other dealings, coal, industrial-related software and its auto sector.
Iran’s rial currency has lost half its value since April under the threat of revived U.S. sanctions. The plunge in the currency and soaring inflation have sparked sporadic demonstrations in Iran against profiteering and corruption, with many protesters chanting anti-government slogans.
The sanctions aim to modify Iran’s behavior and not bring about a “regime change” targeting President Hassan Rouhani, the U.S. officials said. They said the Iranian government’s handling of social and labor protests was a concern.
Trump is aiming to cut off the Iranian leadership’s access to resources, the officials say. The United States also plans to re-introduce potentially more damaging sanctions on Iranian oil in November.
The sanctions being brought back on Tuesday were among those lifted under the 2015 deal between world powers and Tehran on curbing Iran’s nuclear program.
Foes for decades, the United States and Iran have been increasingly at odds over Iran’s growing political and military influence in the Middle East since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.
Trump announced in May this year he would withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal.
The European Union voiced regret on Monday.
“We deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the U.S.,” the bloc said in a joint statement with the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain.
One EU measure to mitigate the impact of U.S. sanctions, known as the blocking statute, will come into force on Tuesday.
One officials said the United States was deeply concerned about reports of the Iran’s violence against unarmed citizens. “The United States supports the Iranian people’s right to peacefully protest against corruption and oppression without fear of reprisal,” the official added.
The U.S. officials added that Trump was ready to meet with Iran’s leaders at any time to try to forge a new agreement with Tehran.
Trump “will meet with the Iranian leadership at any time to discuss a real comprehensive deal that will contain their regional ambitions, will end their malign behavior and deny them any path to a nuclear weapon,” one official said.
Asked about any possible exemptions to the renewed sanctions, officials said they would examine any requests on a case-by-case basis.
Reporting by Lesley Wroughton and Lisa Lambert in Washington and Robert-Jan Bartunek and Alissa de Carbonnel in Brussels,; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Howard Goller