More sanctions likely on Iranian regime, says US national security adviser

PARIS: US National Security Adviser John Bolton said that more sanctions were possible on Iran just days after a new round of measures touted as the most punishing ever on Tehran entered into force.

Bolton said two rounds of unilateral US sanctions introduced by President Donald Trump in August and most recently on Monday had had a “quite significant” effect on the Iranian economy and the country’s actions abroad.

“I think that you’re going to see even more sanctions coming into play over time and much tighter enforcement of the sanctions,” Bolton said in Paris.

Asked what would be the target of the sanctions, he replied: “There are other things we can do in the terrorism and counterterrorism area.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts that the sanctions will cause Iran’s economy to contract 1.5 percent this year and 3.6 percent next year — pain that Trump has boasted about.

“We’ve seen indications that it has affected their belligerent activity in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Not enough yet, but it’s beginning to have that effect,” Bolton said.

“We’ve seen a continuation and exacerbation of political discontent inside Iran. That opposition continues to manifest itself. Economically the Iranian currency is going through the floor, inflation has quadrupled and the country is clearly in recession.”

He said “the objective is still to drive Iranians exports of oil to zero” despite waivers given to the biggest buyers of Iranian oil, including China, India and South Korea.

“It’s with some satisfaction that I noticed today the price of oil is down. We have worked with the Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other producers to make sure production is up so that historic buyers of Iranian oil are not disadvantaged,” he added.

Bolton spoke as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that US sanctions have had no effect on Iran’s economy because Washington had already practically reimposed them earlier.

“The sanctions have had no impact on our economy because America had already used all the weapons at its disposal and there was nothing new to use against us,” Rouhani said in remarks carried live on state television on Saturday.

“They just issued a long list of banks, their branches ... and airlines and their planes. And this shows that they are merely trying to affect the Iranian nation psychologically,” Rouhani said.

The US said it would temporarily allow eight importers to keep buying Iranian oil when it reimposed sanctions last Monday aimed at forcing Tehran to curb its nuclear, missile and regional activities.

“It has now become clear that America cannot cut Iran’s oil exports to zero,” Rouhani added, speaking after a weekly meeting with the heads of the parliament and the judiciary.

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