Most Western companies and banks pulled out of Iran ahead of new Trump administration sanctions, fearing a loss of access to the U.S. economy. But the rest of the world may be more difficult for American officials to convince. Facing a host of nations reluctant to back Washington’s pressure campaign, the administration says it is on high alert, ready to punish those that don’t comply.
Although Iran and the other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal (France, Germany, the U.K., the European Union, China and Russia) remain committed, fear of violating the sanctions and losing access to the world’s biggest economy has forced major multinationals in and outside the U.S. to forgo lucrative projects in Iran.
More Iranians are using social media to vent anger at what they see as the corruption and extravagance of a privileged few, while the majority struggles to get by in an economy facing tighter U.S. sanctions.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Interview with UANI Chairman Sen. Joe Lieberman | Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas
I think the deal with the Obama administration along with our allies in Europe was a bad deal for us. We gave too much and got too little in return. All of that changed as a result of President Trump including the sanctions that were back on Iran this week. I think they have got to affect Iranian behavior.
The criticism was more blunt from United Against Nuclear Iran, an outside group chaired by former Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman that has advocated a tough stance. “Widespread waivers granted under Iran sanctions. Whatever happened to maximum pressure? They caved. Big time,” read a Nov. 2 tweet from UANI.
Another supporter of tough Iran sanctions, U.S. advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), says it sees an imminent end to temporary U.S. waivers granted to eight governments to keep buying Iranian oil without facing U.S. penalties.
Former Sen. Joseph Lieberman now heads a group called “United Against Nuclear Iran.” Along with the group’s CEO Mark Wallace, he released a statement lauding the tough new sanctions. “UANI applauds the Trump Administration for re-imposing sanctions against Iran, which includes more than 700 entities, banks and individuals,” said a statement issued yesterday.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
The top U.S. diplomat has granted an exception to certain U.S. sanctions that will allow the India-led development of a port in Iran as part of a new transportation corridor designed to boost Afghanistan’s economy, a State Department spokesman said on Tuesday.
India aims to sign an initial agreement with Iran this month to settle all their oil trade in rupees through India’s UCO Bank, two Indian government sources said.
Japan, South Korea and other major oil importers welcomed Tuesday the decision by the Trump administration to let them continue to import Iranian crude oil and other petroleum products despite the re-imposition of sanctions on Tehran.
The United States government is preparing more sanctions against Iran, national security adviser John Bolton told Fox Business News, commenting on what the current sanctions have already helped Washington accomplish, and what the ultimate goal is.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that his country would ignore sanctions the U.S. introduced against Iran this week—a defiant tone that could complicate Ankara’s recent efforts to defuse tension with Washington.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday that U.S. sanctions on Iran were not legitimate, in Moscow’s first official comment since Washington restored sanctions on Tehran. Lavrov said Moscow, itself a target of separate U.S. sanctions, expected there would be ways to pursue economic cooperation with Iran despite the reimposition of sanctions on Monday on the country’s oil, banking and transport sectors.
France has vowed to press ahead with plans to flout Washington’s Iran sanctions and boost the international role of the euro as it moves to lead Europe in defying US efforts to act as the world’s “trade policeman.”
Iraq plans to increase its oil output and export capacity in 2019, with a focus on its southern oilfields, and is close to reaching a deal with international companies, Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said on Tuesday. The new minister also said the shortfall in oil supply caused by new U.S. sanctions on Iran had yet to be gauged before Iraq and other OPEC members could decide what action to take ahead of their policy meeting next month.
Iran’s oil minister said on Tuesday that U.S. sanctions on Iranian crude exports mean difficult days for oil consumers worldwide, adding that waivers issued by Washington to eight importing countries will not satisfy market demand.
Iranian officials vowed that their nation would weather the impact of bruising new U.S. sanctions, but offered no plan of action to back up their defiant words.
No, the laws of supply and demand haven’t been suspended when it comes to oil and Iran. The 15% plunge in Brent crude futures in the past month, coming ahead of Monday’s reimposition of sanctions on oil exports, makes sense. What comes next is a lot more complicated.
On October 16, the U.S. Treasury designated 20 Iranian entities. Using the anti-terrorism authorities under Executive Order 13224, Treasury designated companies connected to the Basij Resistance Force, a volunteer paramilitary organization subordinate to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). In line with previous studies and expectations, the designation caused measurable economic loss to the target firms.
Iran said on Tuesday it had so far been able to sell as much oil as it needs despite U.S. pressure, but urged European countries that oppose the U.S. sanctions to do more to shield Iran.
The Trump administration has dropped the hammer, officially putting sanctions on Iran’s oil exports. Why, then, might Iran’s oil exports actually increase in the near future?
Iran’s oil minister has written a letter to the OPEC chief, asking that the so-called Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee — which consists of all OPEC and non-OPEC countries — be dissolved because of its stance on the newly re-imposed U.S. sanctions on Iran.
TERRORISM & EXTREMISM
Three members of an Iranian opposition group were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of having praised those behind a Sept. 22 terror attack in Iran that killed at least 25 people.
Denmark’s arrest of a Norwegian national of Iranian descent on suspicion of helping prepare assassinations of Iranian Arab separatists has put the administration of President Hassan Rouhani under pressure at a time when it is reeling from US sanctions both at home and abroad.
PROTESTS & HUMAN RIGHTS
Iran’s judiciary convicted at least 24 protesters, including two women, on vaguely defined national security charges, Human Rights Watch said today.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
Democrats will use their new majority in the US House of Representatives to reverse what they see as a hands-off approach by Republicans toward President Donald Trump's foreign policy, such as revising the stand on Iran, and push for tougher dealings with Russia, Saudi Arabia and North Korea.
IRANIAN REGIONAL AGGRESSION
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani his country is ready to come to the defence of Gulf Arabs if they threatened – raising the prospect of a dangerous regional conflict which could escalate alarmingly.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
The dispute that had recently erupted between the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), founded by Lebanese President Michel Aoun, and the Hezbollah party has sparked speculation that their 12-year alliance was close to crumbling.
IRAQ & IRAN
The Lebanese Hezbollah party has been interfering in internal political affairs in Iraq, especially recent government formation efforts.