US president Donald Trump has warned America's trading partners that anyone who does business with Iran will not be doing business with the US, after his administration reimposed blanket sanctions overnight.
The US president described the new sanctions, which hit Iran’s access to dollars, gold and precious metals, as “the most biting ever imposed”.
"In November they ratchet up to yet another level," he tweeted. "Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!"
Within hours of the sanctions taking effect, German carmaker Daimler said it was halting its business activities in Iran.
The punitive measures came into force in the early hours of Tuesday, and follow Trump’s decision in May to renege on the landmark 2015 deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
The sanctions also target a range of industries, including Iran’s car-making sector, and will be followed by a set of additional and even more stringent measures by November 4th, including an embargo on the import of Iranian oil and sanctions on its banking sector.
Trump's latest comments appear aimed at the European Union, which is attempting to protect European businesses from the sanctions and has vowed to safeguard firms doing "legitimate business".
“This morning the EU’s updated ‘blocking statute’ entered into force to mitigate the impact of the reimposed US sanctions on the interests of EU companies doing legitimate business in Iran,” a European commission spokesman said.
Companies have been instructed that they should not comply with demands from the White House for them to drop all business with Iran. Those who decide to pull out because of US sanctions will need to be granted authorisation from the European commission, without which they face the risk of being sued by EU member states.
The British foreign office minister, Alastair Burt, told the BBC that the "Americans have really not got this right". He said it was a commercial decision for companies whether to stay in Iran, but that Britain believed the nuclear deal was important "not only to the region's security but the world's security".
The head of the German Association of Chambers of Commerce said German businesses were already “in retreat” from Iran amid fears that legal banking channels between the countries were crumbling under US pressure.
"It's important that the EU and the German government work to find funding channels," said Martin Wansleben, who speaks for more than 3 million German entrepreneurs, in a statement. "As well as the financial damage there is also the threat of losing trust in Iran."
Last week the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, persuaded the German government to stop a cash transfer of €300 million from Hamburg to Tehran via the Europisch-Iranische Handelsbank.
German firms were among the first to take advantage of the opening up of the Iranian market following the Iran deal. Last year German exports to Iran jumped by 16 per cent and were valued at nearly €3 billion. But uncertainty over the future of the deal is reversing that trend, Wansleben said, with German exports to Iran down 4 per cent in the first five months of 2018.
Rouhani’s administration is scrambling to mitigate the impact of sanctions and their effect on the plummeting value of the national currency by easing foreign exchange rules. – Guardian News and Media 2018