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Iran Goes On The Defensive As New U.S. Sanctions Kick In

By Orkhan Jalilov November 8, 2018

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed a meeting with his deputies and managers of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance on November 5, a day after the US government imposed a new round of sanctions on Iran. / president.ir

Iranians have been chanting “death to America” for nearly four decades, but now they really mean to put pressure on the United States, according to President Hassan Rouhani.

“The United States will definitely fail in the way that it has chosen against the Iranian nation,” Rouhani said after the most severe American sanctions under the Trump administration went into effect on Sunday.

“We can put pressure on the United States so that they do not dare to continue following its plots,” Rouhani is reported to have said in a meeting with his deputies and managers of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance on Monday.

Pro-government Iranians protested in Tehran to mark the 39th anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. embassy by militant students in on November 4, 1979, just nine months after the fall of Iran’s monarchy and the start of the Islamic Revolution.

In May, U.S. President Donald Trump had announced that he would be pulling the U.S. out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which his predecessor’s administration had worked tirelessly at passing, along with the other permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany.

On August 7, the U.S. imposed the first package of sanctions against Iran, targeting the country’s automobile sector, trade in gold and precious metals, purchase of U.S. dollars, as well as transactions involving its national currency, the Iranian rial. American sanctions related to the energy sector, including oil exports, and transactions by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran, did not go into effect until Sunday however. The Trump administration had announced its intent to drive Iran’s oil exports down to zero, but backed off from the idea, granting waivers to at least eight countries that import Iranian oil.

“The fact that today, the United States exempts eight countries for buying Iran’s oil, while it explicitly said that it will reduce Iran’s oil sale to zero, is a victory for us. Of course, if they didn’t exempt these eight countries, we would sell our oil,” Rouhani said.

By employing tariffs and sanctions, Washington is seeking to “strangle the competition” with other nations and to place the global free market economy under “very firm control,” Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday in Shanghai during a three-day working trip to China.

Commenting on Trump’s decision to impose sanctions on Russia and Iran, as well as impose tariffs on EU and Chinese goods, Medvedev said that such protectionist policies will, in the end, “hurt the US economy as well,” Russia Today reported.

But not everyone agrees with Rouhani’s and Medvedev’s assessments.

“Considering developments in the energy market and U.S. sanctions, attracting foreign investment and technology to the Iranian energy industry will be tougher than ever. Achieving the goals of the country’s Sixth Development Plan and Twenty-Year Development Plan is possible only with foreign investment, which requires a reduction of political risk in the country. In the event of a reversal of fortunes in terms of foreign policy and the provision of other requirements for foreign companies, capital can be expected to pour in – particularly from Russian and Chinese companies” an Iranian expert, Omid Shokri Kalehsar said, according to a report in Middle East Monitor.