An important cog in the global financial system has succumbed to pressure from the Trump administration and severed ties with Iranian banks. Belgian-based Swift, whose messaging service connects more than 11,000 financial institutions as they transfer money around the world, said it was disconnecting from Iranian banks after the United States announced sanctions against 50 of the country's financial firms on Monday.
The United States snapped sanctions back in place on Monday to choke Iran's oil and shipping industries, while temporarily allowing top customers such as China and India to keep buying crude from the Islamic Republic.
The European Union has so far failed to find a country to host a special mechanism to trade with Iran and beat newly reimposed U.S. sanctions, three diplomats said, as governments fear being targeted by U.S. counter measures.
UANI IN THE NEWS
Sterner sanctions are going to be needed, and it's great to be with you. The waivers that have been issued today by the administration need to be one-time, non-renewable, and, after that, obviously stronger sanctions come into effect. Also, we have to see what SWIFT is going to undertake.
A New York-based advocacy group, United Against Nuclear Iran, said the administration "caved" in its decision to grant waivers. "Whatever happened to maximum pressure," the group tweeted. "They caved. Big time."
The pressure group United Against Nuclear Iran, led in part by former Senator Joe Lieberman, lashed about the waivers, tweeting on Friday that the administration had "caved."
The pressure group United Against Nuclear Iran, which is led in part by former Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., objected to the waivers Friday, saying on Twitter that the administration had "caved."
Organizations that have supported the Trump administration's moves on Iran also have expressed caution with the new concessions, another sign of mounting frustration among those who expected the White House to get tough with Tehran. "The implementation of a maximum pressure, full economic blockade on Iran is the only way to force the regime to change its malignant behavior," United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) Chairman Sen. Joe Lieberman and CEO Amb. Mark Wallace said in a statement. "This campaign should include action by SWIFT to disconnect Iranian banks and no repeat of these oil waivers after 180 days. Anything else will continue allowing the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism to fund its global terror campaign."
Some leading Iran hawks appeared to agree with the administration's approach. "We are encouraged that these waivers will only be temporary and one-time," said United Against a Nuclear Iran, a prominent group that was harshly critical of the nuclear deal and the sanctions relief it brought.
NUCLEAR DEAL & NUCLEAR PROGRAM
As US President Donald Trump reimposes sweeping sanctions on Iran on Monday, all eyes are again on the precarious future of a landmark international deal meant to curb Tehran's nuclear programme. One place that could feel the ramifications of Trump's decision is an unassuming lab complex near the Austrian town of Seibersdorf -- at first sight a world away from geopolitical manoeuvering over Tehran's nuclear programme.
SANCTIONS, BUSINESS RISKS, & OTHER ECONOMIC NEWS
Yesterday, the Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran's oil, gas, shipping and banking industries with more on the way. EU states have announced their displeasure while vowing to circumvent existing financial channels "allowing European exporters and importers to pursue legitimate trade". Iran is demanding European guarantees of business as usual. Theirs is a faint hope. Few international corporations will risk defying Washington's diktats.
The Trump administration reintroduced punitive measures Monday against Iran's all-important energy and shipping sectors. 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.
The Trump administration called it the biggest sanctions action the United States had ever undertaken against Iran. Iran's president called it an act of "economic war" and said his country would win. The package of severe economic penalties imposed against Iran on Monday by the United States is the most significant part of President Trump's decision last May to abandon the Iranian nuclear agreement of 2015, which he has described as a disaster.
White House national security adviser John Bolton on Monday warned that there are even more Iran sanctions planned, saying the Trump administration is not "simply going to be content" with the level that existed under former President Obama.
In his latest statements regarding the reimposition of US sanctions, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani struck a defiant tone. But he left the door open for future talks with the United States despite the fact that such a process would only occur in the distant future.
Iran's leaders lashed out at Washington on Monday as the Trump administration raised economic sanctions to their maximum level, saying the latest punitive actions called for countermeasures to pressure the U.S. in return.
The United Nations should hold the United States accountable for re-imposing sanctions on Monday to choke off Iran's oil and shipping industry, measures that defy a U.N. Security Council resolution, Iran's U.N. ambassador wrote in a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
At the same time U.S. President Donald Trump has ramped up sanctions on Iran, he's signaled his willingness to meet the country's leaders to hash out a new nuclear accord. Israel's United Nations envoy wants him to hold off.
Theresa May today slammed Donald Trump for unleashing the US's 'toughest ever' sanctions regime on Iran.
The reimposition of sanctions against Iran on Monday has ushered in what is likely to be a protracted period of heated rhetoric and standoff, as the Trump administration threatened more pressure and Tehran warned that it can ramp up its nuclear program again, Middle East experts said.
U.S.-IRAN RELATIONS & NEGOTIATIONS
As the U.S. prepares to resume nuclear negotiations with North Korea this week, both sides are hardening their positions, dimming hopes for a compromise. North Korea says it has made enough concessions on nuclear disarmament and has grown more strident in its demands for the U.S. to reciprocate. Last week, Pyongyang threatened to resume building up its nuclear forces if the U.S. doesn't remove sanctions or provide other ways to improve relations.
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan compared US President Donald Trump to Satan and encouraged Iranians to resist American "plots" against Iran, during a visit to Tehran, according to a report by the semi-official Islamic Republic News Agency. "The Christians say that Satan is a liar, and every day they keep a count of Trump's lies," Farrakhan said at a meeting with Mohsen Rezaee, a conservative politician who is secretary of Iran's Expediency Discernment Council, a body that advises Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reacted as expected on Monday to the reimposition of U.S. sanctions, saying that "unfair sanctions are against the law, U.N. resolutions and international accords. Therefore, we will proudly break the sanctions." He's wrong about international law because the U.S. is merely reimposing American sanctions. Barack Obama never submitted the Iran nuclear deal to the U.S. Senate as a treaty, so President Trump can withdraw from it as he wishes. But no doubt Mr. Rouhani believes Iran can evade sanctions and wait out the Trump Presidency.
RUSSIA, SYRIA, ISRAEL, HEZBOLLAH, LEBANON & IRAN
Iran's telecommunications minister accused Israel on Monday of a new cyber attack on its telecommunications infrastructure, and vowed to respond with legal action. This followed comments from another official last week that Iran had uncovered a new generation of Stuxnet, a virus which was used against the country's nuclear program more than a decade ago.
GULF STATES, YEMEN, & IRAN
The United Arab Emirates does not expect a material impact on its economy from the United States' latest sanctions on Iran, the UAE's central bank governor said on Tuesday. The two Iranian banks operating in the UAE have minimal operations dealing with Iranians in the UAE, the governor Mubarak Rashed al-Mansoori said at a conference in Abu Dhabi.
Iran has condemned Bahrain over the jailing for life of a Shiite opposition leader, accusing Manama of wanting to "intensify its suppression" of dissent.
IRAQ & IRAN
Iraq will continue to have access to the energy it needs from Iran to generate and supply electricity, Brian Hook, the special representative for Iran at the U.S. State Department, said Monday on a media conference call. "Iraq has been granted an exemption" to the energy sanctions the U.S. has reimposed on Iran, Hook said, without providing details.
TURKEY & IRAN
Turkey foreign minister criticized on Tuesday the U.S. renewal of sanctions on Iran's oil and shipping industries, saying it was dangerous to isolate Iran and unfair to punish its people, Anadolu news agency reported.
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan led chants of "death to America" on Sunday and derided American conceptions of democracy and freedom during a visit to Iran, planned as a show of support for the regime ahead of the re-implementation of U.S. sanctions. Farrakhan, a notorious anti-Semite who has been embraced by prominent liberal activists and lawmakers, railed against American policymakers for harassing the Iranian people and siding with Saudi Arabia in its proxy war with Iran in Yemen.