Pompeo talks up Iran sanctions ahead of midterm elections


They are the strongest sanctions we've ever imposed.

The new American sanctions take aim at Iran's vital oil industry - a crucial source for its weak economy.

In his great undoing of the "accomplishments" of the Obama administration, President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the humiliating and destructive Iran nuclear deal. "These sanctions hit at the core areas of Iran's economy, and they are necessary to spur changes we seek on the part of the regime".

Iran has greeted the reimposition of U.S. sanctions with air defence drills and an acknowledgement from the president, Hassan Rouhani, that the country faces a "war situation", raising tensions in the Middle East.

Monday's restrictions also cover the shipping, ship-building and financial sectors, with the US Treasury Department announcing it would add more than 700 names to the blacklist of Iranian entities. "The main objective from the United States side is to force Iran to accept most - if not all - of its 12 conditions and demands".

File photo of U.S. president Donald Trump. "The list of banks, which will be substantially longer than last time, will be coming out (in the coming days)", he said.

"But US bullying is backfiring". In fact, the U.S. has indicated intent of supplying $2.5-3 billion oil and gas at short notice if India needed it to meet the shortfall arising out of cut in Iranian oil imports.

But proponents as well as the other parties to the deal - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the European Union - have vehemently defended it.

Asked about the prospect of the country restarting a nuclear program, Pompeo replied that "We're confident the Iranians will not make that decision" on CBS' "Face the Nation".

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The US reinstated a raft of sanctions in August, but analysts say this latest round is by far the most significant.

The sanctions freeze any assets that those targeted have in USA jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.

Oil markets have been preparing for the sanctions for months.

It would mean that India would possibly use escrow accounts for payment against crude oil imports, possibly in the rupee, and may cut its import a bit but will certainly not stop oil imports from Iran.

However, US leader Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and John Bolton, the president's national security adviser, have both made public statements supporting the overthrowing of Iran's theocratic government. But Brent crude was steady at $72.83 by 1230 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were down 35 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $62.79 a barrel.

Meanwhile, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that President Donald Trump has "disgraced" U.S. prestige and would be the ultimate loser from renewing sanctions on the Islamic republic.

In granting waivers, Washington is trying to ensure that global oil prices don't spike, especially in the middle of the US election season.

The United States is re-imposing punitive measures targeting the Iranian oil and financial sectors in what US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called "the toughest sanctions ever placed" against Iran.