WASHINGTON – The Trump administration's decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran went into effect at midnight on Tuesday.
The sanctions will touch a wide range of economic areas, including trade in coal, aluminum and steel from Iran; trade in gold and other precious metals from Iran; and business with Iran's automotive sector.
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A senior American official said Monday evening that there will not be exceptions for these sanctions, which will be "fully enforced" in an "aggressive" manner, including against companies from allied countries. "We've seen company after company announce that they are getting out of Iran," the official said. "This pressure is already working."
A statement from Trump on the reimposition of sanctions said that those failing to comply "risk severe consequences."
Trump's statement also raised the possibility of a new deal to replace the nuclear agreement: "As we continue applying maximum economic pressure on the Iranian regime, I remain open to reaching a more comprehensive deal that addresses the full range of the regime’s malign activities, including its ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism."
Iranian President Hassan Rohani dismissed the idea, saying that "talks need honesty" in a televised speech. "Trump's call for direct talks is only for domestic consumption in America ahead of elections ... and to create chaos in Iran," Rohani said.
According to the administration, close to 100 large international companies have already left Iran in recent months, ever since U.S. President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. "The Iranian people are suffering because of the behavior of their regime," another administration official said. "They are becoming increasingly frustrated about that situation."
The reimposed sanctions were in place for years up until January 2016, when they were lifted as a result of the Iran nuclear deal. A second and final round of such sanctions will be reimposed in November. That round will focus on sanctions from Iran's oil and energy sector, as well as on financial messaging services and on companies that work with Iran's ports authorities.
Tuesday's sanctions will also bring back restrictions on the export to the United States of carpets and foodstuff from Iran, as well as prohibitions on the sale of commercial passenger aircraft to Iran.
The senior official said that "if Iran will start to behave like a normal country, there will be benefits from that. But as long as it continues to destabilize the Middle East, for as long as that's going on, the Iranian people will remain frustrated. The Iranian people have a valid complaint against the regime. We would like to see a change in the regime's behavior."
The official also referred to comments made last week by Trump about his willingness to meet with Iran's leaders. "The president has been very clear that none of this needs to happen," the official said. "The President will meet with them anytime to discuss a true comprehensive deal. The Iranian people should not suffer because of their regime's behavior."
Despite requests by Japan and other countries to give them special authorization to continue purchasing Iranian oil after November, the senior administration official said that as of now, there is no intention to do so. The sanctions, the official said, will be fully enforced on all countries. "We want to keep the maximum pressure until our goals are achieved."
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the reimposition of sanctions "an important moment for Israel, for the United States, for the region, [and] for the whole world." The prime minister called on European countries to join the U.S. in reimposing sanctions.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett meanwhile praised Trump's "brave stand" against Iran with the reimposition of sanctions, saying that Tehran "must end its genocidal ambitions."
Reuters contributed to this report.
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