Trump reimposes sanctions on Iran for 'maximum economic pressure'

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday reimposing many sanctions on Iran, three months after pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, saying the U.S. policy is to levy "maximum economic pressure" on the country.

In a statement, Trump said the 2015 international accord to freeze Iran's nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions was a "horrible, one-sided deal" and said it left the Iranian government flush with cash to use to fuel conflict in the Middle East.

"We urge all nations to take such steps to make clear that the Iranian regime faces a choice: either change its threatening, destabilizing behaviour and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation," Trump said.

We're hopeful that we can find a way to move forward, but it's going to require enormous change on the part of the Iranian regime.– Mike Pompeo, secretary of state

He warned that those who don't wind down their economic ties to Iran "risk severe consequences" under the reimposed sanctions.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran will be rigorously enforced and remain in place until the Iranian government radically changes course.

Opposition in Europe

Speaking to reporters en route from a three-country trip to Southeast Asia, Pompeo said Monday's reimposition of some sanctions is an important pillar in U.S. policy toward Iran. He said the Trump administration is open to looking beyond sanctions but that would "require enormous change" from Tehran.

"We're hopeful that we can find a way to move forward, but it's going to require enormous change on the part of the Iranian regime," he said Sunday. "They've got to behave like a normal country. That's the ask. It's pretty simple."

European foreign ministers said Monday they "deeply regret" the reimposition of U.S. sanctions.

A statement by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom insisted that the 2015 Iran nuclear deal "is working and delivering on its goal" of limiting Iran's nuclear program.

The ministers said the Iran deal is "crucial for the security of Europe, the region and the entire world."

The European Union issued a "blocking statute" Monday to protect European businesses from the impact of the sanctions.

In a televised speech Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tehran could hold talks with the United States only if Washington proved its trustworthiness after it exited a nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

"We are always in favour of diplomacy and talks … But talks needs honesty … The U.S. reimposes sanctions on Iran and pulls out of the [2015] nuclear deal, and then wants to hold talks with us," Rouhani said.

"Trump's call for direct talks is only for domestic consumption in America … and to create chaos in Iran."

'Behave like a normal country'

A first set of U.S. sanctions that had been eased by the Obama administration under the terms of the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal took effect on Monday, following Trump's May decision to withdraw from the accord. Those sanctions target Iran's automotive sector as well as gold and other metals. A second batch of U.S sanctions targeting Iran's oil sector and central bank will be reimposed in early November.

Pompeo noted that the U.S has long designated Iran as the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism and said it cannot expect to be treated as an equal in the international community until it halts such activities.

"Perhaps that will be the path the Iranians choose to go down," he said. "But there's no evidence today of a change in their behaviour."

In the meantime, he said, "we're going to enforce the sanctions."

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