Sunday, 25 August, 2019

Trump warns of more Iran sanctions yet few targets left for US

Oil falls on demand concerns after gains on Mideast tensions Trump imposes sanctions on Iran's supreme leader
Russell Knight | 24 June, 2019, 23:23

Donald Trump has imposed sanctions on Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei after Tehran's shooting down of an unmanned United States drone last week.

Tensions have flared following the attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf, Iran's downing of the drone last week, and repeated attacks on Saudi airports and oil installations by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis.

President Trump said that late Thursday he had canceled a retaliatory strike against several Iranian targets.

Trump signed the punitive financial measures against the Islamic Republic in the Oval Office, calling them a "strong and proportionate response to Iran's increasingly provocative actions".

He added that the U.S. would "continue to increase pressure on Tehran until the regime abandons its unsafe activities and its aspirations, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons, increased enrichment of uranium, development of ballistic missiles, engagement and support for terrorism, fuelling of foreign conflicts and belligerent acts directed against the United States and its allies". Giving details of fresh sanctions, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told reporters at a White House news conference that it includes actions against eight senior commanders of Navy, Aerospace and Ground Forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

On Monday, Oman denied reports that it had conveyed a message from the United States to the Iranian government over the downing of the drone. But on Thursday, according to U.S. news accounts, Trump also approved U.S. Cyber Command attacks on an Iranian intelligence group's computer systems used to control missile and rocket launches.

Trump said in a series of tweets Saturday about the sanctions that he looks forward to the day when "sanctions come off Iran, and they become a productive and prosperous national again - The sooner the better!"

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This added to tensions stoked by attacks on oil tankers in the area in May and June that Washington has blamed on Iran. A fresh round of Iran sanctions is to be announced Monday in a bid to force the Iranian leadership into talks.

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"Now, we can not export oil labeled Iran". "His office oversees the regime's most brutal instruments". And I think a lot of people would like to see them get to work on that great future.

In recent weeks, six oil tankers have been attacked in the Gulf of Oman, which the USA and its Gulf allies blame on Iran.

Last year, Trump pulled Washington out of a multinational agreement that saw Tehran drastically scale back its nuclear programme in exchange for economic sanctions relief. The US has blamed the attacks on Tehran, which has denied wrongdoing.

Iran's June exports are down from about 400,000-500,000 bpd in May as estimated by the industry sources and Refinitiv and a fraction of the more than 2.5 million bpd that Iran shipped in April 2018, the month before President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal.

In recent weeks, Iran has threatened to break out of the deal unless European powers mitigate what it calls Trump's "economic warfare".

Although the volumes from the USA were low compared to those of India's traditional Middle Eastern suppliers, the growth in US imports obliterated the rise in Middle East shipments, also because the official selling prices (OSPs) of Saudi Aramco and other Middle East oil producers have been higher, enabling the U.S.to sell its oil to India.

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