US ratchets up pressure on Iran with resumption of sanctions

US ratchets up pressure on Iran with resumption of sanctions

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who's termed the sanctions as the "toughest sanctions" against Iran, deflected questions on whether India and China - among the eight countries granted waiver to import crude oil from Iran - had given firm commitments on reducing their imports, with an ominous sounding statement, saying "Watch what we do".

China will continue its trade with Iran and opposes the US sanctions on the Islamic Republic as unilateral and "long-arm jurisdiction", a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday, when the American sanctions on Iran's oil, shipping, and banking industry returned.

In a press conference with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Mnuchin said the sanctions are Treasury's "largest single-day action ever targeting Iran". The United States said on November 2 it will temporarily allow eight importers to keep buying Iranian oil.

The sanctions target Iran's vital oil industry, although major customers such as China and India were given temporary exemptions.

A new package of sanctions affect oil exports, global transportation and banking sector.

Earlier Monday, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman called the new sanctions a "critical" blow to Iran's actions in the region. "True, there can be more bumps along the way, but we must approach this very aggressively and from strength. also morally, economically and vis-à-vis security".

Oil prices rallied above $85 per barrel in October on fears of a steep decline in Iranian exports. Over the past year, the exchange value of Iran's currency has dropped sharply against the US dollar.

In an interview with Press TV, political columnist David William Pear said that the United States sanctions are "really putting such hardships on the Iranian people and it is totally unnecessary".

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Iraq has also been given an exemption, Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, told reporters in a conference call, saying Iraq was working "on reducing Iran's influence and opening Kirkuk, which would be another 200,000 barrels of oil".

In addition to hitting Iran's energy sector, Monday's sanctions will target Iran's shipping, shipbuilding and financial sectors.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $62.93 a barrel at 0021 GMT, down 17 cents, or 0.3 per cent, from their last settlement.

USA president Trump has taken a hardline against Iran since taking office.

During the annual UN gathering of world leaders in September, Trump chaired a council meeting that focused heavily on Iran, laying bare the rift between the United States and other powers on the nuclear deal.

Schiff said, "The Trump administration's unilateral re-imposition of these sanctions will also accelerate efforts to facilitate transactions through alternative financial channels that are not reachable by the United States sanctions and into which we will have limited visibility".

Iran's clerical rulers dismissed the curbs.