Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Iranian Presidency Office via AP

Trump Reimposes Sanctions On Iran

August 06, 2018 - 5:44 pm

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880/CBS News/AP) -- President Donald Trump is reimposing many sanctions on Iran three months after pulling the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump ratcheted up pressure on the Islamic Republic despite statements of deep dismay from European allies, three months after he pulled the U.S. out of the international accord limiting Iran's nuclear activities.

 “The goal is to correct Iran’s behavior – beyond uranium enrichment. The concern of the Trump administration is the malign activities conducted by Iran all across the Middle East – involvement in Syria and Yemen and other places,” CBS News White House Correspondent Steven Portnoy told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott and Michael Wallace. “And the president says that the Iran nuclear deal struck by his predecessor, Barack Obama, should be broadened out, and it should include some of these other actions.”

The announcement comes after Trump said last week that he would be open to meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at any point, with "no preconditions." 

"The president has been very clear," a senior administration official told reporters in a call explaining the sanctions Monday. "None of this needs to happen. He will meet with the Iranian leadership at any time to discuss a real comprehensive deal that will contain their regional ambitions, will end their malign behavior, and deny them any path to a nuclear weapon."

The sanctions that go back into effect immediately affect any purchase of U.S. bank notes by Iran's government, Iran's trade in precious metals like gold, graphite, aluminum, steel, coal and software in industrial processes, Iran's automotive sector, transactions related to the Iranian rial, and Iran's issuing of sovereign debt, according to the White House. 

The sanctions that will be reimposed come November include those on Iran's port operators and energy, shipping and shipbuilding sectors, any of Iran's petroleum-related transactions, and foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran. 

“The goal is to strongarm Tehran into negotiations on a new agreement – a broader one – that goes after these malign activities,” Portnoy said.

Another senior administration official said the administration is "not looking to grant waivers" to companies or governments who want to continue to receive Iranian oil imports, but is "glad to discuss and look at requests on a case-by-case basis."

The White House said Iran will be coaxed back into compliance, but there are questions about whether that would work.

“Well, it certainly might not work. I mean, what could happen is that Iran will be emboldened,” Portnoy said. “One of the questions that was asked on a conference call with reporters today is whether it’s the U.S. policy to change the regime in Tehran, and the answer was no.” The policy of the United States is not regime change. The policy is to change the regime’s behavior – that is to say Iran led by Hassan Rouhani and the Ayatollah might be fine as long as they behave.”

Whatever the case, the Europeans do not like any of it.

Despite Trump's claims, the accord "is working and delivering on its goal" of limiting Iran's nuclear program, said a statement by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The ministers said the Iran deal is "crucial for the security of Europe, the region and the entire world," and the European Union issued a "blocking statute" Monday to protect European businesses from the impact of the sanctions.

A senior administration official, briefing reporters under ground rules requiring anonymity, said the United States is "not particularly concerned" by EU efforts to protect European firms from the sanctions.

Iranian President Rouhani said that Iran still can rely on China and Russia to keep its oil and banking sectors afloat. Speaking in a television interview, he also demanded compensation for decades of American "intervention" in the Islamic Republic.

Months of uncertainty surrounding the sanctions have already further hurt Iran's economy. The country's rial currency has tanked, and the downturn has sparked protests across the nation.

The "Trump Administration wants the world to believe it's concerned about the Iranian people," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a statement posted to Twitter. But, he said, the reimposed sanctions would endanger "ordinary Iranians."

"US hypocrisy knows no bounds," he said.

U.S. officials insisted the American government stands with the people of Iran and supports many of their complaints against their own government.

National Security Adviser John Bolton said Iran's leadership is on "very shaky ground," but he insisted economic pressure from the Trump administration is not an attempt at "regime change."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said sanctions are an important pillar in U.S. policy toward Iran and will remain in place until the Iranian government radically changes course.

"They've got to behave like a normal country. That's the ask. It's pretty simple," said Pompeo, en route from a three-nation trip to Southeast Asia.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a firm foe of the Iranian government, said the sanctions symbolize "the determination to block Iran's regional aggression as well as its continuous plans to arm itself with nuclear weapons."

He called on the countries of Europe to join the U.S., saying, "The time has come to stop talking; the time has come to do."

The U.S has long designated Iran as the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism, Pompeo noted Sunday, adding that the Islamic Republic cannot expect to be treated as an equal in the international community until it halts such activities.

He said that "there's no evidence today of a change in their behavior," and in the meantime "we're going to enforce the sanctions."

(© 2018 WCBS 880. CBS News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)