United States imposes raft of stringent sanctions on Iran

The renewal of sanctions on the Islamic republic comes at a time of major supply disruptions in several producer nations and as US President Donald Trump aims to prevent an oil price hike

On Friday, a few days before the sanctions came into effect, the United States granted waivers to eight Iranian oil importers, including Iraq, Turkey, India, China, South Korea and Japan.

US President Donald Trump has defended his decision to spare India and seven other major importers of Iranian oil from immediate penalties, saying it was done to keep the global oil prices down and avoid causing a "shock" to the market.

"President Trump's predecessors also began crafting their Iran policy with similar bravado; but came around to accepting and respecting the reality of Iran as they became more experienced in office".

The US sanctions have pitted Washington against several of its key allies in Europe, who remain committed to the nuclear agreement. It also covers an Iranian airline, Iran Air, and more than 65 of its aircraft.

"We will make sure that humanitarian transactions are really going for those purposes", said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Israel has been a fierce opponent of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal from which the USA withdrew this year, saying the deal didn't rein in Iran's regional military activities.

Since May, Europeans have said repeatedly that they want to preserve the nuclear deal and have focused their diplomatic efforts on keeping trade alive with Iran however possible.

He said more than 20 nations had already cut their oil intake from the Islamic Republic, and its exports had fallen by a million barrels a day.

According to a report by the US State Department, since 2012, Iran has spent $16bn on proxy groups in the region as well as support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In a statement issued over the weekend, the Kremlin's foreign ministry "strongly condemned" the new wave of USA sanctions, arguing that the move deals "another powerful blow to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)".

Rouhani separately said leaders from "four powers" met with Iran on the sidelines of the September meeting of the UN General Assembly to try to save the deal, including brokering a possible meeting with Trump. External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Pompeo had discussed the issue of oil imports from Iran. The sanctions freeze any assets that those targeted have in US jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.

Pompeo promised that the United States will be "relentless" in pressuring Iran as he announced the temporary exemption list.

While Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to detail any potential sanction waivers, he said his government had asked Washington that sanctions should not have an adverse impact on Japanese companies.

A new round of punishing sanctions on Iran's energy, banking and shipping sectors went into force overnight on Monday.

Alamolhoda, an influential figure on the government's Assembly of Experts, told his followers that Iran would launch a missile attack against "all Persian Gulf countries" in the event its oil markets are curtailed. "We are prepared to resist any pressure", Rouhani said.

Pompeo said that the eight had demonstrated that they were reducing purchases of Iranian oil and that the United States recognised special circumstances, as well as the need not to disrupt energy markets.

"The Iranian people have had 39 years of economic mismanagement".

Mr Pompeo said more than 100 global companies had withdrawn from Iran because of the looming sanctions.

Asked if the U.S. had firm commitments from India and China to stop all oil purchases from Iran within six months, Pompeo replied: "Watch what we do".

"Of course, we welcome these developments".

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