Israel welcomes new US sanctions on Iran as 'major milestone'

“This is an important step toward having Iran march down the right path and placing the Iranian tiger in a cage,” says Israeli official as fresh U.S. sanctions on Iran set to take effect .  Secretary of state: U.S. ready to talk if good deal can be made.

Iranians check exchange rates outside a bank in Tehran (Illustration: AFP)

New U.S. sanctions on Iran set to take effect on Monday are an important milestone in the effort to put Iran on a path to become a  normative country, Israeli officials said on Sunday.

On May 8, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that his country was pulling out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and that U.S. sanctions lifted as part of that agreement would be restored.

The first batch of sanctions was set to come into force on Monday, and the second will take effect on Nov. 4. The reimposition of sanctions is aimed at making Iran renegotiate the nuclear deal.

Israeli officials said that the reimposition of sanctions during a time of civil unrest in Iran means that the sanctions are effective, particularly because the protesters are outraged over the ayatollah regime squandering resources on foreign entanglements in Syria and Yemen.

The officials said that after the second wave of sanctions takes effect in November, the pressure will reach a critical mass that will force Iran to abandon its aggressive behavior in the region. One official said the new sanctions taking effect this week are “a very important step.”

Israeli policymakers hope the pressure will result in Iran agreeing to halt the development of ballistic missiles, freeze its nuclear program indefinitely and allow unfettered inspections.

“This is an important step toward having Iran march down the right path and placing the Iranian tiger in a cage,” one official said.

Iranian TV said Sunday that the government will ease foreign exchange rules in a bid to halt a collapse of the rial, which has lost half its value since April due to fears about U.S. sanctions. The plunge in the Iranian currency and soaring inflation have sparked sporadic demonstrations against profiteering and corruption, with many protesters chanting anti-government slogans.

Iran's central bank blamed the country's “enemies” for the fall of the currency, and the judiciary said 29 people had been arrested on charges that carry the death penalty. On Sunday, the judiciary said it had arrested a further seven people, including a former deputy central bank governor and five foreign exchange dealers.

A state body led by President Hassan Rouhani and the heads of the judiciary and parliament on Sunday partially lifted a ban on the sale of foreign currency at floating rates, allowing exchange bureaus to sell at unofficial market rates for purposes such as overseas travel.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that the White House would detail the implementation of the new sanctions on Monday.

“It's an important part of our efforts to push back against Iranian malign activity,” he said. “The United States is going to enforce these sanctions.”

Referring to recent sporadic protests in Iranian cities, Pompeo said, “The Iranian people are not happy – not with the Americans but with their own leadership. They're unhappy with the failure of their own leadership to deliver the economic promises that their leadership promised them.”

Pompeo said the United States wants “the Iranian people to have a strong voice of who their leadership will be,” although he stopped short of calling for regime change.

“We are happy to talk if there's an arrangement that is appropriate, that could lead to a good outcome,” he said. “Perhaps that will be the path the Iranians choose to move down with. There's no evidence to date of their desire to change their behavior.”



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