Liberman: Reimposed Iran sanctions a 'sea change' for Mideast

Saul Bowman
November 5, 2018

Washington imposed sanctions against Iran on Monday, restoring measures lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by the administration of former USA president Barack Obama, and adding 300 new designations including Iran's oil, shipping, insurance and banking sectors.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman welcomed the newly restored USA sanctions in a tweet on Monday, saying they will deal a "critical blow" to Iran's military presence around the Middle East.

"Mr. Trump! Never threaten Iran because moans of the frightened USA forces in Tabas can still be heard", Gen. Jafari said, referring to the failed American mission to rescue the hostages known as Operation Eagle Claw.

But proponents as well as the other parties to the deal - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the European Union - have vehemently defended it. This framework has also been approved by the U.S. for the 8 countries that would enjoy its waiver to keep the global oil markets calm. Rouhani separately said leaders from "four powers" met with Iran on the sidelines of the September meeting of the United Nations General Assembly to try to save the deal, including brokering a possible meeting with Trump.

Monday's sanctions are the second batch the Trump administration has reimposed on the Islamic Republic since it withdrew from the nuclear agreement earlier this year.

Brian Hook, the special adviser to the secretary of state and special representative for Iran, told PBS News that the USA is not looking to give any exceptions or waivers to its sanctions regime.

On Friday, the United States said it would add 700 individuals and entities to its Iran blacklist and push the SWIFT global banking network to cut off Tehran as Washington applies "maximum pressure" to cripple the country's economy. "We will, we expect, have reduced Iranian crude oil exports by more than 1 million barrels even before these sanctions go into effect", he added.

And Washington said on Friday it will temporarily allow eight importers to keep buying Iranian oil.

As most oil sales are still transacted in dollars, Iran will nonetheless see deeply-restricted access to oil-sale funds, as petro payments will be held in escrow accounts in those countries making the buy.

Negotiations with USA are on to see if it could offer oil and gas on concessional terms from its own reserves to help India tide over Iran sanctions. "The whole world understands these sanctions are real", he said during an interview of CBS's Face the Nation.

The US says the sanctions are not aimed at toppling the government, but at persuading it to radically change its policies, including its support for regional militant groups and its development of long-range ballistic missiles.

Senior Iranian officials have dismissed concerns about the impact to its economy.

Iran's economy was already suffering major structural problems - including widespread corruption, weak investment and a banking sector laden with toxic assets - before Trump walked out of the nuclear deal. He also said the reimposed USA sanctions were part of a psychological war launched by Washington against Tehran, adding that "America's economic pressure on Iran is futile".

"A loss of one million bpd from Iran, further declines in Venezuela, coupled together with geopolitical disruption in Libya and Nigeria could easily wipe out what little spare capacity we have left", Bernstein analysts said last week. "This is a substantial drop", she said, adding that the ultimate goal was to deprive the regime of revenue it gets from oil.

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