The United States has reimposed oil and financial sanctions against Iran, a move believed to be taken by President Donald Trump to put pressure on Iran’s government to curb its alleged missile and nuclear programmes.
The move, reportedly effective from Monday, November 5, will restore US sanctions that were lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by the administration of ex-President Barack Obama.
What do the latest sanctions on Iran by President Trump mean and how effective can they be? Here are five key things you should know:
1. The US 2015 nuclear deal: 'Worst ever' agreement
The 2015 nuclear deal saw most international financial and economic sanctions on Iran lifted by the US and other countries in return for the Iranian government curbing its disputed nuclear activity under UN surveillance.
However, President Trump in May announced that his administration was withdrawing from the deal, calling it the "worst ever" agreement negotiated by the US. He subsequently reimposed the first round of sanctions on Iran in August.
2. Other parties to the deal decide not to pull out
Despite President Trump’s move, other countries that were part of the 2015 deal have reportedly decided not to leave. Other countries involved in the deal are Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.
“They have promised to support European firms that do "legitimate business" with Iran and have set up an alternative payment mechanism - or Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) - that will help companies trade without facing US penalties,” BBC reports.
President Trump has reportedly granted exemptions to eight countries to continue importing Iranian oil, without naming them.
According to Aljazeera, the exempted countries are reported to include China, India, South Korea, Japan and Turkey, all top importers of Iranian oil. They are expected to be given temporary exemptions from the sanctions to ensure crude oil prices are not destabilised.
4. Reactions from Iran
Briefly.co.za gathers that thousands of Iranians had earlier rallied to mark the anniversary of the seizure of the US Embassy during the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Addressing the rally in Tehran, the capital of Iran on Sunday, November 4, the country’s military chief, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, warned President Trump against overreaching when dealing with Iran.
“I want to say something to America and its weird president,” Jafari said.
“Never threaten Iran, because we can still hear the horrified cries of your soldiers in the [desert] … and you know it better, how many of your old soldiers in American society commit suicide every day because of depression and fear that they suffered in battlefields.
“So, don't threaten us militarily and don't frighten us with military threats,” he added.
In his speech, Jafari assured the crowd that Trump's attacks on Iran's economy were a desperate attempt to defeat the republic - one doomed to fail.
However, in another report by BBC, some Iranians are blaming their government for the sanctions, pleading to the US to have mercy on them.
BBC reports that some Iranians have taken to Twitter to vent their frustration with the regime, with the hashtag #Sorry_US_Embassy_Siege attracting more than 19,000 tweets.
One user tweeted in English: “Over the past 40 years, the Islamic regime of Iran tried to present the US and Israel as Iran's enemies. But Iranian people do not think like mullahs. We love all nations and all people of the world.”
Another said: “America is not our enemy, our enemies have taken us as hostages in our own home [country].”
5. Why the new sanctions?
As earlier stated, the US re-imposed the sanctions after President Trump in May pulled out of the 2015 deal.
The BBC reports that the US also said it wants to stop what it calls Tehran's "malign" activities including cyber attacks, ballistic missile tests, and support for violent extremist groups and militias in the Middle East.
"We are working diligently to make sure we support the Iranian people and that we direct our activity towards ensuring that the Islamic Republic of Iran's malign behaviour is changed," US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was quoted to have said.
"That's the goal, that's the mission, and that's what we will achieve on behalf of the president."
6. The sanctions have started affecting Iran
Aljazeera reports that the optimistic tone of the Iranian government “stood in stark contrast to the widespread economic chaos the country has endured during the past 12 months, including a nosedive in the value of its currency, a shake-up of President Hassan Rouhani's economic team - which saw several senior ministers dismissed - and nationwide protests against price hikes and dire economic conditions.”
According to figures from the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Iran's petroleum exports hit $52.728bn in 2017. Its crude oil exports stood at 2,125,000 barrels per day during the same year, while its natural gas exports reached 12.9 billion cubic metres.
However, the numbers have already reportedly dropped in the current year.
For instance, Vandana Hari, a Singapore-based global oil market analyst quoted by Aljazeera, said that India’s crude oil imports from Iran dropped from 690,000 barrels per day in May to around 400,000 barrels per day in August.
The US secretary of state reportedly said more than 100 big international companies had withdrawn from Iran because of the looming sanctions.
BBC also quoted him as saying Iranian oil exports had dropped by nearly one million barrels a day, choking the main source of funding for the country.
In addition, the Brussels-based Swift network for making international payments is expected to cut off links with targeted Iranian institutions, isolating Iran from the international financial system.
Briefly.co.za gathers that Iran's energy sector accounts for up to 80% of the country's income from exports, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Thus, the new US sanctions could bring serious financial and economic woes to Iran and her people.
Meanwhile, the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, had also earlier warned the US to be cautious.
The warning came following the blistering message from US President Donald Trump to his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani.
Briefly.co.za notes that in a tweet posted on his handle, @JZarif, the minister stated that his country was unimpressed, and had heard harsher rhetoric some months ago.
He reminded the US president that Iran has been around for a very long time, during which it has witnessed the fall of empires.
Enjoyed reading our story? Download BRIEFLY's news app on Google Play now and stay up-to-date with major South African news!