The first round of renewed US sanctions on Iran took effect as President Hassan Rouhani—under increasing economic and political pressure—spurned President Donald Trump’s suggestion for talks with “no preconditions.”
Following an executive order signed by Trump, the US imposed new restrictions intended to stop the purchase of dollar banknotes by Iran, prevent the government from trading gold and other precious metals and block the nation from selling or acquiring various industrial metals. The measures, which took effect at midnight in Washington, also targeted the auto industry and banned imports of Persian carpets and pistachios to the US.
In a televised address, Rouhani said Iran is open to negotiations if the US is “sincere,” but he added that such talks would be meaningless while his nation is being hit with sanctions. Trump and his top aides have raised the possibility of face-to-face discussions with Rouhani with “no preconditions.” “Negotiations at the same time as sanctions, what meaning does that have?” Rouhani said. “It means someone is facing a person who’s a rival and enemy, if they use a knife and they stick the knife in their arm and then they say, ‘Let’s negotiate and let’s talk.’ The response to this is first all, they have to take the knife out and put the knife back in their pocket.”
While the penalties were expected, they drew fresh condemnation from European allies who are standing by the 2015 nuclear accord that Trump quit in May. They presage tougher sanctions against imports of Iranian oil that will go into force in early November, although the administration signalled it will consider partial exemptions to that ban.
“We deeply regret the re-imposition of sanctions by the US, due to the latter’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” according to a statement from the foreign ministers of the UK, Germany, France and the European Union. “Preserving the nuclear deal with Iran is a matter of respecting international agreements and a matter of international security.”
Rouhani said in his remarks that the EU and other countries must take concrete action to save the Iran accord.
“In my visits to Europe and China and Russia and in the talks I’ve had, I’ve seen that they’ve all promised that they will not pay attention to the sanctions,” he said. “But the problem is their companies, which are under pressure from the US and are affected by the US sanctions.”
Rouhani scoffed that despite his offer for talks, Trump “is someone who, without any negotiation, has withdrawn from all of his international commitments,” from trade accords to the Paris climate agreement.
Iran’s Foreign Secretary Javad Zarif tweeted that the “Trump Administration wants the world to believe it’s concerned about the Iranian people. Yet the very first sanctions it reimposed have cancelled licenses for sales of 200+ passenger jets under absurd pretexts, endangering ordinary Iranians. US hypocrisy knows no bounds.”
Javad Zarif @JZarif Trump Administration wants the world to believe it’s concerned about the Iranian people. Yet the very first sanctions it reimposed have canceled licenses for sales of 200+ passenger jets under absurd pretexts, endangering ordinary Iranians. US hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Iran’s central bank, acting on the eve of the US move, scrapped most currency controls introduced this year in a bid to halt a plunge in the rial that has stirred protests against the government.
Under the measures, the central bank will let the market determine the rate of foreign-exchange transactions except the imports of essential goods and drugs, Governor Abdolnaser Hemmati said. Licensed currency houses whose trading had been halted will be allowed to resume operations from Tuesday, he said.
Rouhani said the government had widened the list of essential goods that could be imported into the country and said Iran had enough foreign currency supplies to meet society’s needs.