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‘Strongest US sanctions ever’ targeting Iran’s oil go into effect… with ‘temporary’ concessions

‘Strongest US sanctions ever’ targeting Iran’s oil go into effect… with ‘temporary’ concessions
Touted by Donald Trump as the “strongest” ever imposed by the US, the embargo on Iranian oil has just gone into effect. Washington, however, had to grant several waivers to countries that refused to cut economic ties with Tehran.

The sweeping package of sanctions, targeting Tehran’s energy, finance and shipping sectors, went into effect November 5. This marks a full reversal of whatever small relief was given to Iranian companies and individuals by Washington following the historic international nuclear deal (JCPOA) in 2015.

Even though the US administration, and the president personally, repeatedly trumpeted the embargo as a great achievement at numerous public events in the run-up to midterm elections, Washington had to make significant concessions, as it failed to rally enough international support for its bold move.

READ MORE: US threatens to smack SWIFT with sanctions if it fails to cut off financial services to Iran

Initially, the US promised harsh punishment to any state or entity still doing energy business with Tehran after the set deadline.

Yet at least eight countries were granted waivers, which State Secretary Mike Pompeo called just a temporary measure to help allies who “need a little more time to get to zero” oil import from Iran.

  • India, China, South Korea, Japan and Turkey – who happen to be among the world’s largest importers of Iranian oil – were all generously allowed to continue trading with Tehran, according to reports.
  • The European Union, which was surprised not to find itself on Washington’s ‘friend list,’ has meanwhile vowed to protect its companies engaged in “legitimate business with Iran.” EU officials said that in order to circumvent US pressure they would cooperate with Russia and China, as well as all other countries willing to preserve the UN-backed deal.

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Since its unilateral withdrawal from the UN-backed deal in May, which was praised by Israel and Saudi Arabia, but condemned by other signatories, the US has been pursuing the policy of “maximum pressure” on Iran. Yet Tehran remained defiant of the “bullying,” stating it was in fact the US that was isolated on the issue, and that the latest concessions were a sign of Washington’s “gradual retreat.”

“This new US president... has disgraced the remnants of America’s prestige and that of liberal democracy. America’s hard power, that is to say their economic and military power, is declining too,” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week.

“We tell them that ‘you will not reach any of your goals with regard to Iran’s oil sales,” added President Rouhani. “You will neither be able to bring it to zero nor reduce it.”

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