Washington: US President Donald Trump targeted Iran’s steel and mining sectors Wednesday in his latest tough sanctions but said that he ‘someday’ hoped to negotiate face-to-face with the clerical regime.
The White House said it was imposing sanctions on all trade of Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum and copper, the country’s biggest export after oil – which the United States is already working to halt completely.
“Today’s action targets Iran’s revenue from the export of industrial metals – 10 per cent of its export economy and puts other nations on notice that allowing Iranian steel and other metals into your ports will no longer be tolerated,” Trump said in a statement. “Tehran can expect further actions unless it fundamentally alters its conduct.”
But in a switch in tone, Trump, who talked tough on North Korea before entering landmark talks with leader Kim Jong Un, said he was also willing to negotiate.
“I look forward to someday meeting with the leaders of Iran in order to work out an agreement and, very importantly, taking steps to give Iran the future it deserves,” informed Trump.
Meanwhile hours after Trump’s latest announcement on sanctions Iran threatened Wednesday to enrich its uranium stockpile closer to weapons-grade levels in 60 days if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for its 2015 nuclear deal.
A televised address by President Hassan Rouhani, who once pledged that the landmark deal would draw Iran closer to the West, saw the cleric instead pressure Europe to shield Tehran from the sanctions imposed by Trump.
Rouhani’s threats put the world on notice that it cannot continue to rely on Iran complying with terms of the unraveling deal in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, a US campaign of sanctions hammering Iran’s anemic economy and blocking its sale of oil on the global market is only making life worse, putting further pressure on both its Shiite theocracy and its 80 million people.
Rouhani himself compared the situation to a medical emergency for the Islamic Republic, only 40 years after its founding.
“We felt that the nuclear deal needs a surgery, and the painkiller pills of the last year have been ineffective,” Rouhani said. “This surgery is for saving the deal, not destroying it.”