US hits head of Iran's central bank with terror sanctions

Clay Curtis
May 16, 2018

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said he would try and save the 2015 Iran Nuclear deal through negotiations with the European nations who were co-signatories to the deal.

Iran says it is ready to restart its nuclear program on an "industrial scale" in the wake of the decision by US President Donald Trump to abandon the deal that curbs the country's nuclear ambitions.

"The President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has been tasked with taking all necessary steps in preparation for Iran to pursue industrial-scale enrichment without any restrictions, using the results of the latest research and development of Iran's fearless nuclear scientists", the statement said.

Meanwhile, European diplomats in Tehran fumed that Trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal could undermine years of patient work to restore commercial and diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic.

In the aftermath of Washington's pullout, Europeans are seeking ways to protect the interests of their firms doing business in Iran and help them escape the brunt of the upcoming USA sanctions. They remain deeply dependent on the United States for security guarantees against Russian Federation - something Trump has grumbled about - and are in the middle of negotiations over an exemption to new US tariffs on steel and aluminum.

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It is unclear how well the measure could be enforced, given that big multinationals are likely to be doing more business in the USA than they are in Iran and may be unwilling to compromise that market access.

In Beijing on Sunday Zarif said he was hopeful of forging a "clear future design" for the deal to save it from collapse after US President Donald Trump withdrew from it on Tuesday. It was widely believed to have been a successful piece of global diplomacy at the time, but Trump repeatedly referred to the deal as being the "worst ever" during his election rallies, pointing out that it made no mention of the Iranian ballistic program or the overall influence Iran exerted in the Middle East. The fundamental challenge is finding a way to ensure that Iran still derives enough economic benefits from the agreement to override its interest in pursuing a nuclear weapon.

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It reiterated that Iran was preparing to resume "industrial scale" uranium enrichment "without any restrictions" unless Europe provided solid guarantees it could maintain trade ties despite renewed U.S. sanctions.

"I think that will sink in, and we'll see what happens then".

Sir Simon Gass, who led the UK's team in the lead up to the deal, said: "The deal we reached in 2015 did what it set out to do".

But, she added, "with the nuclear deal in place we have better chances to address any other issues we have to address with Iran".

"These actions are further proof that the Iranian regime's reckless actions pose a severe threat to regional peace and security". Mr Trump pulled out of the accord on May 8, saying that Iran had violated the spirit of the deal by financing militant activity in the Middle East and by continuing to test ballistic missiles.

China offers Iran a valuable alternative to trade with the US and Europe.

But she emphasised that numerous problems began long before Trump's move last Tuesday. In this case, the USA chose to also impose "secondary sanctions", which also apply to non-Americans and non-U.S. companies.

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