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U.S. Iran Sanctions Take Effect, No Word Yet On Waiver Countries

05 Nov 2018 Radio Free Europe

WASHINGTON -- Fresh U.S. sanctions against Iran, labeled by President Donald Trump as the “strongest ever,” have taken effect against the country’s energy, shipping, shipbuilding, and financial sectors.

U.S. officials did not immediately make an announcement as the sanctions took force in the early morning hours of November 5, part of Washington’s effort to ramp up pressure on Tehran to “change its behavior” and end what the United States says is its “malign” activities in the region.

As part of the new round of measures, the White House has warned Iran's customers they must reduce their purchases of oil to zero or face U.S. penalties, although it has issued 180-day waivers to eight “jurisdictions” that will allow them to continue importing Iranian oil.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani responded early on November 5 in a speech on state TV, saying that Iran would continue to sell oil and break the sanctions.

Hours earlier, Trump called the sanctions the toughest ever imposed by the United States against Iran.

“We'll see what happens with Iran. But they're not doing very well," he said, referring to the economic setbacks the country has already faced because of an earlier round of U.S. sanctions.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on November 2 said that despite granting the waivers, Washington would “aggressively enforce” the sanctions.

U.S. officials said the jurisdictions would be identified on November 5, although they have not yet been disclosed.

However, a South Korean official early on November 5 told Reuters that it had been granted a waiver after it asked for "maximum flexibility" from Washington.

Iraq and Turkey have also previously said they expect to receive waivers, while news agencies have reported that Afghanistan, India, Italy, and Japan were likely to be granted exemptions.

In an interview with the Fox News Sunday program on November 4, Pompeo said the nations receiving waivers "need a little bit more time to get to zero."

He said he could not rule out that the U.S. administration would extend the waivers beyond six months.

The United States is reimposing sanctions that were lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear activities.

Trump withdrew from the pact in May and began reimposing sanctions on the Iranian economy in August, saying the terms of the accord were not strict enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons and accusing Tehran of supporting militant violence in the region and other “malign” activities. Iran denies the allegations.

Iran's economy has been hit hard, with the country's currency, the rial, plummeting in value, leading to some street protests in Iranian cities.

With reporting by CBS, AP, and Fox

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