Archive for the ‘Iran – sanctions enforcement’ category

Bartering – An Act of Desperation

September 26, 2018

“Special Purpose Vehicle aims to keep Iran in 2015 nuclear deal with barter system


Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov with EU external affairs chief Federica Mogherini in New York on Tuesday. Photograph: Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

By Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor Wed 26 Sep 2018 01.00 EDT The Guardian

Source Link: EU, China and Russia in move to sidestep US sanctions on Iran

{What’s next, wampum? – LS}

The European Union, Iran, China and Russia have set out a plan to sidestep unilateral US sanctions designed to cripple the Iranian economy and force the Iranians to renegotiate the nuclear deal signed in 2015.

European diplomats hope the proposed measure – known as a special purpose vehicle (SPV) – will help persuade an increasingly reluctant Iran to stay inside the deal in the hope of rescuing its economy.

Speaking on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York, Federica Mogherini, the EU external affairs chief, said the SPV was designed to facilitate payments related to Iran’s exports – including oil – and imports, so long as the firms involved were carrying out legitimate business under EU law.

The aim is to make the SPV available not just to EU firms but to others, she added.

In his address to the United Nations general assembly, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, stressed Tehran’s continued commitment to the deal and accused the US of pressurising other countries into violating the nuclear agreement.

“Confronting multilateralism is not a sign of strength,” he said. “Rather, it is a symptom of the weakness of intellect. It betrays an inability in understanding a complex and interconnected world.”

But the US president Donald Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, addressing an anti-Iran pressure group, said he was “disturbed and indeed deeply disappointed” by the EU plan.

“This is one of the of the most counterproductive measures imaginable for regional and global peace and security,” Pompeo said.

Versions of the SPV floated by thinktanks suggest it could underpin a sophisticated barter system that can avoid US Treasury sanctions. For example, Iran could ship crude oil to a French firm, accumulating credit that could then be used to pay an Italian manufacturer for goods shipped the other way, without any funds traversing through Iranian hands or the banking system.

A multinational European state-backed financial intermediary would be set up to handle deals with companies interested in Iran transactions and with Iranian counter-parties. Any transactions would not be transparent to the US, and involve euros and sterling rather than dollars.

The proposal is additional to a blocking statute passed by the EU in August that theoretically makes EU companies immune from sanctions imposed by the US in pursuit of its Iran policy. In theory, the statute empowers EU firms to seek compensation from US Treasury for trying to impose extra-territorial sanctions in breach of the statute. So far this statute has not been tested in court.

Richard Nephew, a former Barack Obama official and author of The Art of Sanctions, expressed scepticism on Twitter, saying that for the SPV to be taken up, European firms – many with either US employees, or US subsidiaries – must still be prepared to take the risk of being sanctioned by the US.

He also suggested US sanctions could be applied to the traded good as much as to the cash to fund the trade. He predicted few firms would take that risk, outside some SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] heavily dependent on Iran for their income.

Jarrett Blanc, another former Obama staffer for the Iran deal, broadly agreed with Nephew, but was more sympathetic, writing that “the symbolism here is probably Europe’s most important contribution, and it may be sufficient depending on what China, India, Turkey do on oil”. He added: “The payment mechanism move opens the door to a longer-term degradation of US sanctions power.”

Either way, Europe needs a solution soon after months of railing against US economic imperialism. The vast majority of European firms are planning to pull out.

Trump announced two sets of US secondary sanctions in May, and other sanctions imposed in August cover shipping and insurance. The other more important sanctions – aimed at ending Iranian oil exports, still the heart of the faltering Iranian economy – do not bite until 5 November.

In advance of the oil sanctions, Iran’s crude sales to China fell 21% between May and August, according to Eurasia Group. But it is unclear how long China will stick to that trend.

The assumption is that many countries like India and Russia will continue to trade with Iran and challenge the US to try to impose sanctions, pointing out that in reality it is the US, by tearing up the agreement and not them, that is in breach of UN resolutions.

Iran sanctions: Trump warns trading partners

August 7, 2018

By BBC News Staff – August 7, 2018

Source Link: Iran sanctions: Trump warns trading partners

Time is running out for Iran and waiting for the next US presidential election is not an option. – LS}

US President Donald Trump has issued a strong warning to anyone trading with Iran, following his re-imposition of sanctions on the country.

“Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States,” the president tweeted.

Some re-imposed sanctions took effect overnight and tougher ones relating to oil exports will begin in November.

Iran’s president said the measures were “psychological warfare” which aimed to “sow division among Iranians”.

The sanctions follow the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal, earlier this year.

The deal, negotiated during the presidency of Barack Obama, saw Iran limit its controversial nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief.

Mr Trump has called the deal “one-sided”, “disastrous” and the “worst I’ve ever seen”. He believes renewed economic pressure will force Iran to agree to a new deal.

The European Union, which remains committed to the original agreement, has spoken out against the sanctions, vowing to protect firms doing “legitimate business” with Iran.

What else did Mr Trump say in his latest tweet?

He praised the “most biting sanctions ever imposed” and said they would “ratchet up to another level” in November.

“I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!” he said.

On Monday he had said that Iran faced a choice to “either change its threatening, destabilising behaviour and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation”.

“I remain open to reaching a more comprehensive deal that addresses the full range of the regime’s malign activities, including its ballistic missile programme and its support for terrorism,” he said.

What are the sanctions?

Mr Trump signed an executive order that brought sanctions back into place at 00:01 EDT (04:01 GMT) on Tuesday. They target:

  • The purchase or acquisition of US banknotes by Iran’s government
  • Iran’s trade in gold and other precious metals
  • Graphite, aluminium, steel, coal and software used in industrial processes
  • Transactions related to the Iranian rial currency
  • Activities relating to Iran’s issuance of sovereign debt
  • Iran’s automotive sector

A second phase is planned to come back into effect on 5 November which will have implications for Iran’s energy and shipping sectors, petroleum trading and transactions by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran.

What has the reaction been?

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the US government had “turned their back on diplomacy”.

“They want to launch psychological warfare against the Iranian nation.” he said. “Negotiations with sanctions doesn’t make sense. We are always in favour of diplomacy and talks… but talks need honesty.”

The foreign ministers of Germany, the UK and France released a statement on Monday that said the nuclear deal remained “crucial” to global security.

They also unveiled a “blocking statute”, which is intended to protect European firms doing business with Iran despite the new US sanctions.

Alistair Burt, the UK’s minister of state for the Middle East, told the BBC: “If a company fears legal action taken against it and enforcement action taken against it by an entity in response to American sanctions, then that company can be protected as far as EU legislation is concerned.”

He said Iran would simply “batten down the hatches” until the next US election.

However, German car and lorry maker Daimler, which announced a joint venture in Iran last year, confirmed this week that it has now ceased activities in the country.

How will Iran’s economy be affected?

Iran has already seen unrest since last December over a poorly-performing economy.

Rising food prices, unemployment and even poor water supplies have led to protests in a number of cities.

Demonstrations in Tehran in June were said to be the capital’s biggest since 2012.

How much they are tied to the new US sanctions policy is hard to determine, but one definite link is the effect on Iran’s currency. It lost around half of its value after Mr Trump announced the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

Iran acted by easing its foreign exchange rules on Sunday, and the rial has strengthened by 20% since then.

Iranians have been hoarding gold as a safeguard, pushing it to a record high in Tehran.

The sanctions may bite hardest in November, when the US blocks Iranian oil sales.

This could halt about half of Iran’s exports of some two million barrels a day, although Iran may look to China and Russia to keep its industry afloat.

The International Monetary Fund said in March that Iran’s net official reserves could decline this year to $97.8bn, which would finance about 13 months of imports. And analysts at BMI Research say Iran’s economy could contract by 4.3% in 2019.

However, Barbara Slavin, of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, told the Wall Street Journal that when sanctions hit hard, it often means ordinary people become “totally dependent” on their government and so sanctions do not tend to topple regimes.

What do young Iranians think

As the first tranche of new US sanctions kicks in, young Iranians have been sharing their stories with BBC Persian. Many are already feeling the effects, as the economy had slowed down in anticipation of what was to come.

“I used to work in marketing for a home appliance manufacturer,” said Peyman. “I lost my job as the company can’t import the components.”

Aerospace engineer Ali lost his job of 13 years because his company couldn’t import equipment.

“Now I’m working as a taxi driver to feed my family,” he said. Many people say they’re no longer being paid on time and are finding it hard to make ends meet.

A construction worker, also called Ali, said he hadn’t been paid for 13 months. Omid, a doctor, was doing overtime to pay the rent and save up to get married.

Many people said they were losing hope. Sama said falling exchange rates meant her monthly salary was now worth half what it was six months ago.

“Buying a house or a nice car is like a dream now, she said. “Even buying a good mobile phone soon will be impossible for people like me.”

BREAKING: Iran Begs for Meeting with President Trump

August 1, 2018

By Kevin Jackson – July 31, 2018 The Black Sphere

Source Link: BREAKING: Iran Begs for Meeting with President Trump

{Keep squeezing them until they pop. – LS}

Iran is in turmoil, and it’s due to the policies of President Donald Trump.

As one of my contacts reported,

The cities of Tehran, Shahr-e Rey, Tabriz, Qeshm, Karaj and others are witnessing store-owners closing their shops from early Monday morning, reports from sources inside the country indicate.

This new strike follows a recent nosedive of Iran’s currency, the rial, reaching 115,000 rials to the U.S. dollar. On Sunday night, a number of bazaar merchants issued statements calling on their colleagues to stage a new round of strikes. People on social media are welcoming these measures, emphasizing the status quo is no longer acceptable.

I mentioned not long ago that Iran’s currency is taking a beating. I actually saw a report that the rial was not at 115,000 to one U.S. but actually was at 230,000 to the U.S. dollar.

Simply put: President Trump has the rogue nation right where he wants them. So why not meet with Iran to teach them the art of the deal, as President Trump suggests he will do.

President Trump declared Monday that he is willing to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani anytime and without preconditions, saying that he believes it is always better to meet with adversaries.

“No preconditions,” Trump said of a meeting with Iranian leaders. “If they want to meet, I’ll meet. Anytime they want.”

Trump was responding to a question at a joint news conference at the White House with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Last week, tension between the United States and Iran escalated after Trump appeared to threaten military action against Iran in a tweet and Iranian officials vowed to resist any attempt to destabilize their country.

As we’ve learned with Trump, America has nothing to lose in these negotiations and everything to gain.

How pathetic is that, that America has been taken advantage of in every aspect of foreign policy. I put the blame on the previous administration, as Obama had ample opportunity to set a different course for American foreign policy and he punted the football.

Thankfully, Trump recognized the abject ignorance displayed by Obama and righted the ship. And Trump is straightening out Iran without firing a bullet.

If anybody believes the Iranian currency has devalued by 75 percent by accident, you don’t know how things work. While Donald Trump couldn’t take the blood money Obama gave Iran back, he could do something almost as good–make sure the money had no value.

So now the billions Iran received from Obama have been rendered down to millions. And given all the country’s internal woes, they will be forced to re-evaluate the amount of money the can continue to pour into Syria and elsewhere.

Meanwhile organizations like the NCRI and MEK continue to create chaos internally. Look at the trucker’s strike:

July 25, 2018 – The new round of the truck drivers’ strike entered its third consecutive day on Wednesday.

To this day a total of 85 cities in 25 provinces have joined this strike.

Truck drivers in various parts of Tehran and the cities of Isfahan, Najaf Abad, Karaj, Bandar Abbas, Saveh, Khaf, Zanjan, Semnan, Shahroud, Shiraz, Farrokhshah, Kermanshah, Kerman, Zahedan, Malayer, Khorramshahr, Khorramabad, Bojnurd, Yazd, Port Khomeini, Shahr-e Kord, Khur Mousa, Abdulkhan and dozens of other cities have truck drivers on strike.

Authorities in Kermanshah were pressuring truck drivers to end their strike, only to face stiff resistance by their part. Intelligence agents and police officers in this city began taking stripping license plates off parked trucks in order to force the drivers to end their strike. The family members of the truck drivers began protesting these illegal measures.

In Mashhad, the loading terminal station was completely empty and no truck was at the scene to deliver any goods.

Truck drivers in Isfahan were seen protesting those drivers breaking their ranks, demanding they continue their strike.

This new round of the truckers’ strike began on Monday in many cities and towns across the country. Many provinces, including Tehran, East Azarbaijan, Kurdistan, Isfahan, Fars, Semnan, Qazvin, Kerman, Kermanshah, Lorestan, Central (Tehran), Khorasan Razavi, Chahar-Mahal & Bakhtiari, Khuzestan, and Hormozgan were scenes of such strikes.

Two months ago the truckers strike lasted around two weeks, engulfing all 31 provinces of Iran. The drivers were refusing any loads and protesting their poor living conditions, low wages, high logistical costs, and vehicle leases

And what of this message from Iran’s supreme leader, threatening dissidents:

Soleimani on Thursday expressed his fear of the PMOI’s role and the President elect of the Iranian Resistance, and described US policy toward Iran as being reliant only on the PMOI and Maryam Rajavi. With this, Soleimani expressed his fear of the rising credibility of the Resistance inside and outside Iran, as well as the regime’s fear of increasing international pressure and isolation.

Furthermore, he said “We are closer to you than what you think, remember that the Quds Force and I, and not the entirety of our armed forces are your opponent. You know how powerful Iran is in unconventional wars.”

“There is not a single night that we go to bed without thinking of your destruction,” he added.

Clearly the Iranian leadership worries about what might happen next.

From this vantage point, it’s evident that things have changed in Iran. The idea of President Trump even tangentially mentioning that he will meet with Iran, signals to me that he has received back-channel communications requesting as much.

Putin to Meet Iran’s Rouhani, Turkey’s Erdogan in Tehran for Syria War Talk

July 15, 2018

By Adelle Nazarian July 14, 2018 Breitbart

Source Link: Putin to Meet Iran’s Rouhani, Turkey’s Erdogan in Tehran for Syria War Talk

{Now Putin wants to step in and save Iran’s oil industry from sanctions by investing billions. Russia’s deal with Germany must be quite lucrative. – LS}

The Iranian government claimed Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will “soon” head to Tehran to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the status of Syria’s civil war.

Iran’s state-run Mehr News agency reported on Friday that Ali-Akbar Velayati, Senior Aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said, “Putin said that he will go to Tehran soon to take part in [Turkey-Iran-Russia] meeting on Syria.”

Velayati made the announcement on Thursday after meeting with Putin in Moscow.

Khamenei’s senior aide called the dialogue between Tehran and Moscow “constructive, clear, and friendly.”

According to Turkey’s state-run Andalou Agency, Velayati’s meeting with Putin “has become the subject of debate in Iran” among Iranians. The publication noted, “Although Velayati has no official role in Iran’s Foreign Ministry, he is widely regarded as Khamenei’s second most trusted advisor on Syria after Qasem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force.”

In addition to talk about Syria on Thursday, Velayati said Putin announced that Moscow plans to invest up to $50 billion in the Islamic Republic’s oil and gas sector, and noted that Russian firms could replace Western oil companies that have left or are leaving Iran to comply with America’s demands that nations stop importing Iranian oil by November 4 or face sanctions.

According to Russian state news outlet RT {Russia’s official propaganda network – LS}, Velayati also delivered messages from Khamenei and from President Hassan Rouhani to Putin.

In November 2015, Putin visited Iran for the first time in eight years to discuss the Syrian conflict.

In April, Iran, Russia, and Turkey held trilateral talks in Ankara, where they strategized about Syria’s future after the United States announced it would slowly phase out its presence there. Despite his reluctance to do so, President Donald Trump agreed to keep roughly 2,000 troops in Syria until the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) terrorist group is completely defeated.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the southern region of Syria on Tuesday that killed and wounded at least 50 of what the terrorist group described as “Crusader Russian Forces” and “the Apostate Nusayri Army.” Nusayri is reportedly a derogatory term used to refer to Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s soldiers.

The jihadist terrorist group still poses a great risk to parts of Syria’s population.

Also on Tuesday, the Maghawir al-Thowra reportedly detained 11 Islamic State fighters inside the deconfliction zone in southern Syria.

“This is evidence of our partner forces’ effectiveness in the fight,” Army Maj. Gen. James Jarrard, commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve,”said, according to the Department of Defense. “As [ISIS’] movement from southwest Syria continues, our partners will interdict and disrupt these forces to ensure the defeat of [ISIS] in the region.”

This week, the Andalou Agency also suggested that Putin’s recent meetings with Trump have drawn suspicion from “much of the Iranian public … especially in terms of Syria.” The publication wrote, “Putin’s recent meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump have only exacerbated these suspicions.”

 

 

Iran Plotting With U.S. Allies to Skirt Trump’s New Sanctions

May 29, 2018

Global showdown looming as Trump administration cracks down on Tehran

BY: Adam Kredo May 29, 2018 1:55 pm via Free Beacon

Source Link:
Iran Plotting With U.S. Allies to Skirt Trump’s New Sanctions

{The world has changed…for the worse. – LS}

Iranian officials are plotting with U.S. allies across the globe to develop a series a measures meant to counter new sanctions by the Trump administration following its abandonment of the landmark nuclear deal, setting up a global economic showdown between America and its allies over their future business dealings with the Islamic Republic.

Iranian leaders disclosed on Tuesday that they had recently held high-level meetings with European Union nations and leaders in India and Thailand to explore options for skirting new U.S. sanctions.

Iran’s efforts and the warm reception it is receiving from many nations has roiled leaders on Capitol Hill, where some lawmakers are already moving to confront these countries and ensure they face harsh repercussions for any breach of U.S. sanction law.

The State Department also is scrambling to respond to Iran’s efforts by building a counter-coalition aimed at isolating Tehran and any nation that works with Iran to skirt new U.S. sanctions, U.S. officials told the Washington Free Beacon.

Iranian Government Spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht disclosed on Tuesday that the nation’s top leaders, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, have met with European leaders and others in the region to discuss skirting new U.S. sanctions, which have targeted virtually every portion of Iran’s economy, including its contested nuclear and energy sectors.

Zarif recently concluded a trip to India and Thailand, where he is reported to have made much progress in convincing these nations to help Tehran “bypass” the new U.S. sanctions, which were fully reimposed by the Trump administration after its decision to walk away from the nuclear agreement.

“In addition to the E.U., we are improving relations with other countries, especially the neighbors,” Nobakht was quoted as saying on Tuesday in Iran’s state-controlled press.

Meetings with leaders in India are said to have gone particularly well for Iran, sparking outrage in the United States where these same Indian leaders have been pleading with the Trump administration to boost relations.

India and China have already vowed to continue purchasing Iranian crude oil, despite the Trump administration’s crackdown.

“A major part of the oil is sold to India and China,” Nobakht said. “We are also in talks with Europe to continue oil sales to them, and Iran’s increased oil sales to them has even been under discussion with them to compensate any drop if some states decrease oil imports.”

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, in remarks following meetings with top Iranian leaders, vowed to ignore U.S. sanctions.

“India follows only [United Nations] sanctions and not unilateral sanctions by any country,” Swaraj was quoted as saying, emphasizing that India remains “independent” and immune to “pressure.”

A U.S. State Department official, speaking only on background, told the Free Beacon that under newly installed Secretary of State Pompeo’s leadership, American diplomats are already developing relationships aimed at ensuring U.S. sanctions on Iran have a maximum impact.

“We are hard at work in our efforts to build our new effort to counter the totality of Iran’s malign activity with our friends around the world. Secretary Pompeo speaks frequently with his counterparts from the UK, France, and Germany as well as our allies in the Middle East and Asia,” the official said.

Teams of U.S. diplomats are being sent across the globe to galvanize support for the new U.S. sanctions, the official said.

“We will be sending out teams of diplomats and specialists to talk about specific concerns with the plan for re-imposition of U.S. nuclear-related sanctions and next steps with Iran,” the official said. “We are fully engaged at all levels.”

On Capitol Hill, opponents of the nuclear accord are working on parallel efforts to ensure that any foreign nation caught skirting new U.S. sanctions on Iran faces harsh repercussions, including massive economic penalties and a possible cutoff from the U.S. financial system.

“India is going out of its way to alienate members of Congress, including many who have been sympathetic and trying to help them,” said one senior congressional official who works on the issue and has discussed the matter with the administration.

“They’re almost certainly violating the sanctions against Russia that overwhelmingly passed Congress last summer,” said the source, who would only speak on background about these efforts. “Now they’re bragging about violating Iran sanctions too. They keep telling us they want a new relationship with America but then they act in these destructive ways. It’s very troubling.”

European Companies Flee Iran to Avoid US Sanctions

May 23, 2018

“Washington has threatened to hold anyone doing prohibited business in Iran to account.” Germany’s state-run DW News confirms

Posted by Vijeta Uniyal Tuesday, May 22, 2018 Legal Insurrection

Source Link: European Companies Flee Iran to Avoid US Sanctions

{Money talks,  political bullshit walks. – LS}

European companies are leaving the Islamic Republic of Iran in droves fearing U.S. sanctions after President Donald Trump’s decided to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal earlier this month. The regime in Tehran is “particularly concerned by the decisions of various European companies to halt their Iranian operations until the future of sanctions was clear,” several German newspapers reported on Monday.

“The cascade of decisions by EU companies to end their activities in Iran makes things much more complicated,” Iranian Foreign Minister said. The statement comes days after the French oil company Total pulled out $5 billion worth of investments from the country fearing U.S. sanctions.

The EU, backed by the governments of France and Germany, has been scrambling to save the European business interests in Iran. German and French companies had made huge investments in Iranian oil and industrial sectors since the nuclear deal eased sanction on the regime three years ago.

The EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the bloc’s executive arm, proposed enacting laws to allow European companies to ignore the U.S. sanctions. This so-called ‘blocking statute’ could protect European firms from prosecution by the U.S. Treasury and other agencies.

The Trump administration has made its intentions clear to go after any foreign player found guilty of sanctions-busting in Iran. “US withdrawal and new raft of sanctions will hurt a number of European firms with connections to Iran. Washington has threatened to hold anyone doing prohibited business in Iran to account.” Germany’s state-run DW News confirmed.

German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif’s comments that were made at a meeting with a senior EU official in Tehran:

Iran has called for EU’s support in saving the nuclear deal–primarily through more European investments.

Europe declares its political commitment to the deal, but large European companies want to pull out of the country, complained the Iranian Foreign Minister.

Iran doesn’t consider the political support from the European Union to be sufficient to save the nuclear deal. Country’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif made that clear during his meeting with the EU Commissioner for Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete. The EU needs to undertake practical measures “in order to increase investments in Iran,” Zarif said–as reported by Iran’s state-run news agency. The EU commitment to the nuclear deal is not in tune with the calls made by big European companies to leave Iran.

Several foreign companies have suspended their operations in Iran while they wait for the outcome of the talks within the EU. Last week, the French oil company Total announced its decision to end an investment project worth $4.8 billion if the company fails to get an approval from Washington. [Translation by the author]

The exodus of European investments from Iran is a diplomatic win for the Trump administration that has been urging the Western companies to end operations in Iran.

Earlier this month, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced that “it’s possible” for the European companies to face sanctions if they continued doing business with Tehran. The U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell called upon the German firms to stop trading with Iran. “US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately,” Ambassador Grenell said.

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a list of demands to Tehran: calling on the regime to immediately cease its nuclear program, end military activity throughout the Middle East and release all U.S. nationals held on spurious charges. He threatened “strongest sanctions in history” if Iran fails to comply.

The reaction from Tehran shows that European investors aren’t buying the assurances being given by the EU commissars. Many of the French and German companies fleeing Iran have profitable operations in the U.S. and don’t want to jeopardize their business relations across the Atlantic just to make a quick buck in Iran. With President Trump and the members of his administration acting in unison on the issue of Iran, European companies–unlike the EU officials–seem to have grasped the firmness of the U.S. resolve.

Pompeo to Iran: Get ready for “strongest sanctions in history”

May 21, 2018

Ed Morrissey May 21, 2018 Hot Air

Source Link: Pompeo to Iran: Get ready for strongest sanctions in history

{I suggest the Mullahs pay attention. – LS}

Mike Pompeo offered both a clenched fist and an open hand to Iran in his first major policy speech. At the Heritage Foundation this morning, the new Secretary of State pledged never to “repeat the mistakes of past administrations” and rejected entirely the effort to “renegotiate the JCPOA,” the executive agreement created by the Obama administration. Instead, Pompeo offered to open full diplomatic and economic ties with Tehran, but only if they comply with twelve “basic requirements” for non-proliferation and the end of state-sponsored terrorism:

Otherwise, Iran will face a much tougher sanctions regime — and presumably, so would anyone else doing business with them:

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is threatening to place “the strongest sanctions in history” on Iran if its government doesn’t change course.

Pompeo on Monday called for a new nuclear agreement with Iran following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal. He says the Trump administration prefers for it to be a treaty that is ratified by Congress.

Pompeo is laying out an onerous list of 12 “basic requirements” demands on Iran that he says should be included. He says Iran must “stop enrichment” of uranium and never preprocess plutonium. Iran must also allow nuclear “unqualified access to all sites throughout the country.”

Pompeo says Iran must also “release all U.S. citizens,” end support for Houthi rebels in Yemen, “withdraw all forces” from Syria and stop threatening Israel.

Iran’s not likely to agree to any of this, of course, especially about Israel. The mullahcracy in Tehran has its mission to destroy Israel and to spread its Shi’a Islam to dominate the region. Its ultimate goal is control over Mecca and Medina, which makes Saudi Arabia a higher priority than even Israel or propping up Bashar al-Assad in Syria, at least for Assad’s sake. Their encirclement strategy around Riyadh is too important to worry about diplomatic and economic engagement with “the Great Satan,” even if it was nice for a while not to have economic obstruction from the US.

The real target for this speech wasn’t Tehran, though. It was the capitals of Europe, especially Berlin, Paris, and London. Pompeo intended to lay out the case that the Obama administration and the P5+1 group essentially funded Iran’s aggression in the region over the last few years with the execrable JCPOA, and that they are responsible now for cutting off that flow of funds in order to slow Tehran’s encirclement strategy:

Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, is expected to call on European countries to help ramp up economic pressure on Iran as he outlines America’s ‘Plan B’ to the nuclear deal.

Delivering his first major foreign policy speech since taking the job, Mr Pompeo will double down on the United States’ decision to quit the agreement earlier this month.

He is expected to frame the 2015 deal as allowing Iran to increase its malign influence across the Middle East on the back of funding from renewed trade with the West.

Mr Pompeo is also expected to urge other nations to join America in reimposing economic sanctions on the regime in a bid to bring it back to the negotiating table.

Pompeo wants to underscore just how serious the Trump administration is about putting the shackles back on the Iranian regime. The existing, re-imposed sanctions will already put European businesses at risk for sustaining major economic damage if they continue to work with Iran. Pompeo made it clear in his speech today that the US does not intend to find ways to avoid that damage. The “strongest sanctions in history” only work as long as the US enforces them strongly enough to make them work as deterrents. The best way for Europe to avoid getting hurt in that exchange is to join up with the US in imposing them.

This won’t prompt any immediate change from either Iran or our allies. It’s a marker laid down by Pompeo and Donald Trump, not yet an action in itself. Our allies will try to work Pompeo and Trump to mitigate those consequences, and perhaps Trump will be willing to negotiate around the edges. But Pompeo’s making it clear that the US plans to take a very hard line on Iran, and not just in nuclear-weapons proliferation.