US to apply new sanctions aimed at crushing Iranian economy
State Department Mike Pompeo declared a "snapback" of UN sanctions against Iran last month - Reuters
The United States is expected to impose new sanctions on Iran on Thursday to exclude Tehran from the global financial sector and force it to renegotiate a nuclear deal.
The sanctions target the remaining Iranian banks, which are not yet subject to secondary sanctions, and punish foreign, non-Iranian financial institutions who do business with them with the aim of denying Tehran's legal avenues for generating revenue.
The Washington Post first reported on the US plan, which experts say could affect Iran's ability to purchase food and medicines despite the possibility of exemptions for humanitarian goods.
The plan is the latest intensification of the US campaign "Maximum Pressure" on Iran as President Donald Trump's administration seeks a foreign policy victory ahead of the November presidential election by forcing Iran to recreate the nuclear deal, which was terminated by Mr Trump in May 2018 to negotiate.
After the US unilateral withdrawal, Iran gradually abandoned many of the restrictions of the 2015 agreement. Last month, the United States declared a "backlash" in United Nations sanctions against Iran, although this has been denied by almost every other member of the UN Security Council.
Opponents of sanctions, including European governments, say they will have dire humanitarian consequences and could block imports of food and medicine as the country suffers from a spiraling coronavirus epidemic.
In the midst of a collapsing economy, Iran is battling the worst outbreak in the Middle East. The Ministry of Health reported a record 4,392 new cases in the past 24 hours on Thursday.
Iranian officials say that existing sanctions are already hindering access to humanitarian goods and putting millions of lives at risk.
"Contrary to US claims, humanitarian goods and services are affected by the cruel sanctions," Mohammad Zareyian told the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.
"Financial institutions fear US revenge, which is why the financial channels created to facilitate transactions in humanitarian goods have not yielded tangible results," the Iranian representative on the Human Rights Committee said in the remarks published by the semi-official Fars News agency.
Far from forcing Iran back to the negotiating table, the US sanctions are likely to strengthen Iranian leaders who oppose compromise, as some now fear.
"It's really not about getting Iran to negotiate. This ship has sailed," said Chris Murphy, a Democratic Senator from Connecticut. "Now the main impact of these sanctions will likely be to ensure that the anti-American toughest line candidate has the Iranian presidential election next year wins. "
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