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U.S. Restores Economic Sanctions On Iran


Now that the Trump administration has pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, it is reimposing sanctions that had been lifted under the deal starting at midnight. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: The sanctions being snapped back now make it harder for Iran to trade in gold and precious metals, graphite, aluminum and steel. The U.S. is also trying to block the Iranian government from acquiring U.S. dollar banknotes and is hitting the automotive and airline industries.

Those are relatively small compared to the sanctions on Iran's oil and shipping sectors that go back into force on November 5. Trump's national security adviser John Bolton told Fox News that the U.S. is determined to pressure Iran to change its behavior.


JOHN BOLTON: The pressure on the Iranian economy is significant. The value of its currency is going through the floor. We've seen public reporting of massive flights of capital out of Iran. The elites are getting nervous.

KELEMEN: The European Union, along with France, Germany and the U.K., are trying to salvage the nuclear deal, which they say is working to limit Iran's nuclear program. They're vowing to try to protect European companies doing business that is allowed under the agreement, which was endorsed by the U.N. Security Council.

But Bolton says while European governments might want to adhere to the deal, their companies are, quote, "running from it." And there's some truth to that, says Jarrett Blanc, a former State Department official now with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

JARRETT BLANC: Any large European company that has what we would call a nexus to the United States - so a major business connection to the United States - is probably not going to choose to risk U.S. sanctions, regardless of their government's perspective, because the U.S. market is just so much more important to them than the Iranian market.

KELEMEN: But the picture is more complicated than that, as governments try to help companies that don't have ties to the U.S.

BLANC: The amount of intellectual energy that's going into Europe figuring out how to work around U.S. sanctions is bad for us in the mid to long term.

KELEMEN: That's because countries could learn new ways to avoid the U.S. financial system. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, meanwhile, is urging Europe, Russia and China to do more to salvage the deal as the U.S. ramps up sanctions.

President Trump has offered to meet with him, but Rouhani was quoted in a speech today saying that if someone wants to talk, he should first put away his knife. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.