U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
CAIRO - 5 November 2018: U.S. secretaries of state and treasury Mike Pompeo and Steven Mnuchin held a press conference Nov.4 to reveal certain figures related to the sanctions on Iran targeting the banking, energy, and shipping sectors, and explain the measures taken.
“Today, the United States is executing the final action to withdraw the Obama administration fatally flawed Iranian deal. Sanctions are part of a maximum unprecedented economic pressure campaign the United States is waging against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror. Today, we sanctioned more than 700 individuals, entities, aircraft, and vessels as part of treasury’s largest ever single-day action targeting the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Mnuchin said.
The treasury secretary stated that over 300 of today’s sanction list are new targets, in addition to hundreds of others that were previously granted sanction reliefs under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Agreement (JCPOA). Mnuchin added that the Iranian regime has funneled billions of dollars for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) through the banking sector.
Today’s penalties include 50 Iranian banks, including foreign and domestic subsidiaries, in response to the “Iranian support” for international terrorism, proliferation of mass destruction weapons, their means of delivery, and human rights abuses, Mnuchin said.
The secretary stated that the treasury identified more than 400 targets, including over 200 persons and vessels in Iran’s shipping and energy sectors, and more than 65 aircrafts making up part of the fleet of the Iranian national airline. That is in addition to blacklisting 250 persons and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI). That means that their assets are blocked and U.S. nationals are prohibited to deal with them.
Mnuchin asserted that his country expects Europe to honor the sanctions, although there are transactions that they can continue to do whether humanitarian or others pertinent to unrestricted accounts.
“We will make sure that humanitarian transactions are really going for those purposes. So this is not about hurting the people of Iran but we will not let the money be diverted to humanitarian purposes and later put for terror activities,” he emphasized.
Pompeo described the sanctions as “President Trump Administration’s strategy to fundamentally alter the behavior of the Iran” labeling them “an unprecedented campaign whose objective is starving the Iranian regime of the revenues used to fund violent and destabilizing activities in the Middle East and indeed around the world.”
“Our ultimate goal is to convince the regime to abandon its current revolutionary course,” the U.S. secretary of state said. He added that “the Iranian regime has a choice.” It can either back off or “see its economy crumble.”
Pompeo stated that the U.S. administration hopes a new agreement with Iran is possible but unless Iran makes changes in accordance with the 12 demands listed in May, his country “will be relentless in exerting pressure on the regime.”
“I promise you that doing business with Iran in defiance to our sanctions will ultimately be a much more painful business decision than pulling out of Iran,” Pompeo threatened.
He added that more than 20 importing nations have zero imports of crude oil from Iran, already slashing more than one million barrels per day of Iran’s exports. “The regime today since May has lost more than $2.5 billion in oil revenue,” Pompeo said.
“We have decided to issue temporary exemptions to a handful of countries responsible to specific circumstances and to ensure a well supplied oil market. The U.S. is granting those exemptions to China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Turkey. Each of those countries has already demonstrated significant reductions of the purchase of Iranian crude over the past six months. Two of those have completely ended imports of Iranian crude and will not resume as long as sanctions remain at place. We continue negotiations to get all nations to zero,” Pompeo stated.
The U.S. secretary of state said “100 percent of what Iran receives from sellable oil will be held in foreign accounts. They can only use this money for humanitarian trade, and bilateral non-sanctioned goods.”
“Speaking of Iran’s nuclear program, we have decided to grant narrow to temporary waivers to the continuation of three non proliferation projects currently underway. Allowing these activities to continue in the time being … will make these facilities less susceptible to illicit and illegal nuclear uses.”
“Rest assured, Iran will never come close to getting a nuclear weapon on President Trump’s watch,” Pompeo said.
The secretary added that the U.S. administration had talked to all European countries and that many of them had taken “a different approach to the JCPOA.” Pompeo asserted that European businesses had already made their decision and decided not to do business with Iran. “We are confident that the sanctions will be very effective,” Pompeo concluded.
The 12 requirements put forward by the U.S. Department of State, according to their officials website, consist of:
“First, Iran must declare to the IAEA a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program, and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity.
Second, Iran must stop enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing. This includes closing its heavy water reactor.
Third, Iran must also provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country.
Iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of nuclear-capable missile systems.
Iran must release all U.S. citizens, as well as citizens of our partners and allies, each of them detained on spurious charges.
Iran must end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hizballah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias.
Iran must also end its military support for the Houthi militia and work towards a peaceful political settlement in Yemen.
Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria.
Iran, too, must end support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and the region, and cease harboring senior al-Qaida leaders.
Iran, too, must end the IRG Qods Force’s support for terrorists and militant partners around the world.
And too, Iran must end its threatening behavior against its neighbors – many of whom are U.S. allies. This certainly includes its threats to destroy Israel, and its firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It also includes threats to international shipping and destructive – and destructive cyber attacks.”