UPDATE — 11/5, 9:35 a.m. EST: The U.S. State Department exempted eight countries from Iran sanctions as expected Monday, naming Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Italy and Greece as states which may continue to temporarily buy oil from the Middle Eastern nation.
In a long-anticipated move, the U.S. is preparing to restore Iran sanctions previously lifted by the Obama administration following the landmark 2015 the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Specific sanctions set to return Monday include penalties against Iran’s key oil and financial sectors, port operators, shipping and shipbuilding industries and insurance companies.
Under what the White House described as the “toughest sanctions ever imposed,” American and foreign firms found in violation of the sanctions will be fined and prohibited from the American financial network.
Although the return of pre-2015 sanctions is intended to further cripple Iran’s economy, the Trump administration inserted a caveat, which will allow eight “jurisdictions” to continue to purchase Iranian oil for the time being.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not reveal which nations would be allowed to continue to purchase Iranian oil in a statement, but it is widely believed to include U.S. allies India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.
“The United States remains open to reaching a new, more comprehensive deal with Iran that forever blocks its path to a nuclear weapon, addresses the entire range of its malign actions, and is worthy of the Iranian people,” Trump said in a statement Friday.
A move which had been telegraphed for months, President Trump withdrew from JCPOA in May, with the promise he would return sweeping sanctions to cajole Iran to end its nuclear-and ballistic-missile program.
The White House is also targeting Iran’s economy for its presence in Syria and support for militant groups throughout the Middle East.
Weeks after Trump ended U.S. involvement in the Iran nuclear deal, Pompeo laid out 12 demands Iran must meet to avoid economic isolation.
The reimposition of sanctions arrives one day after thousands of Iranians gathered in Tehran to commemorate the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy by Iranian students.
Prior to the lifting of the sanctions, Iran had labored for decades under the burden of U.S., UN, and EU sanctions over its nuclear ambitions and support for terrorism.
[The Hill] [Reuters] [NBC News] [Wall Street Journal] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via The Express]