United States sanctions on Iran, 'toughest ever,' take force Monday

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Oil prices fell on Monday as the start to US sanctions against Iran's fuel exports was softened by waivers that will allow major buyers to still import Iranian crude, at least temporarily.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country will continue selling its oil and break the second batch of sanctions the U.S. administration reinstated since President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of the nuclear deal in May.

The restoration of USA sanctions on Monday targeting Iran's oil sales and banking sectors is part of a wider effort by Trump to force Tehran to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes outright, as well as support for proxy forces in conflicts across the Middle East.

The sanctions bring to an end all the economic benefits the U.S. granted Tehran for its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, though Iran for now continues to abide by the accord under which it limited its enrichment of uranium. "Iran is a much different country since I terminated that deal".

The European Union has established a mechanism to permit its multinational companies to maintain presences in Iran, but all signs are that the USA sanctions will be dissuasive.

The ghost of United States sanctions on Iran seems to have calmed down at least for major energy importing countries like India.

The U.S. president abandoned the nuclear agreement in May, accusing Iran of violating the deal.

"That's the mission, these sanctions are a part of our effort, and they're already being felt by the Iranian leadership", he said. Exports peaked at 2.8 million barrels per day in April, including 300,000 barrels per day of condensate, but have fallen to 1.8 million bpd since then, according to WoodMac, which expects volumes to drop further to 1 million bpd. "We are in the economic war situation".

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Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters on Monday that the accord "should be comprehensively and effectively implemented" despite the fact that the United States pulled out of it in May.

"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 the presidential statement.

"They have the same level of emotional maturity", he said in an October interview with the New York Times.

The US Secretary of Treasury warned in recent days that SWIFT, the ubiquitous global service used for financial transaction communications, will not be spared if it continues to cooperate with blacklisted Iranian banks. The US imposed a first round of sanctions on Iran in August and Monday marked the second round of sanctions that went into effect.

US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from the pact in May despite objections from close allies in Europe.

Hassan Rouhani made the announcement in a meeting with economists that was broadcast on state TV.

US sanctions permit trade in humanitarian goods such as food and pharmaceuticals, but measures imposed on banks and trade restrictions could make such items more expensive.

Asked about it on "Fox News Sunday", Pompeo answered, "The Iranian banks that engage in sanctionable behavior will be sanctioned by the Department of Treasury, period, full stop".

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