Iran Renews Call To US To Lift All Sanctions Imposed By Trump

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani

 

Iran on Friday renewed its call for the US to lift all sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump, after an offer for talks from new President Joe Biden’s administration.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Iran would “immediately reverse” its retaliatory measures if the US “unconditionally & effectively” lifts “all sanctions imposed, re-imposed or re-labeled by Trump”.

The Biden administration on Thursday offered talks with Iran led by European allies and reversed two largely symbolic steps against Tehran imposed by Trump, as it sought to salvage a nuclear deal on the brink of collapse.

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Ahead of a Sunday deadline set by Iran for it to restrict some access to UN nuclear inspectors unless Trump’s sanctions are ended, new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned jointly with European powers that the move would be “dangerous”.

Hours after Blinken’s videoconference with his French, British and German counterparts, the European Union political director, Enrique Mora, proposed via Twitter an “informal meeting” involving Iran — and the US accepted.

“The United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear programme,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

The P5 — UN Security Council powers Britain, China, France, Russia and the US — plus Germany sealed the 2015 deal brokered by then-president Barack Obama under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear programme in exchange for promises of economic relief.

Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018 and re-imposed sweeping sanctions, aiming to bring Iran to its knees.

Zarif’s tweet did not explicitly address the Biden administration’s offer of talks. Iran has demanded an end to Trump’s sanctions before reversing protest measures it took away from full compliance.

A senior US official said the Biden administration was showing good faith and saw a meeting as the start of a “prolonged path” to restoring and building on the nuclear accord.

If Iran declines to meet, “I think it would be both unfortunate and at odds with their stated view that they want to come back if you come back.

“That’s not going to happen simply by one side telling the other one what to do,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Britain swiftly welcomed the proposed talks. “The UK will participate,” a spokesperson said.

– Reversing Trump steps –

Biden has insisted he will not remove Trump’s sanctions until Iran returns to compliance — but the administration Thursday undid two symbolic steps by the last administration.

In a letter to the United Nations, the United States said it no longer believed that the world body had “snapped back” sanctions on Iran.

Blinken’s predecessor Mike Pompeo last year argued the United States was still a “participant” in the Security Council resolution that blessed the nuclear deal — despite withdrawing later — and therefore could reimpose sanctions.

The argument had been dismissed by the United Nations and close US allies at the time.

In his tweet, Zarif said Iran agreed with the Biden administration’s decision.

“US acknowledged Pompeo’s claims” regarding UN Security Council Resolution 2231 “had no legal validity. We agree,” Iran’s top diplomat wrote.

The Biden administration also reversed draconian curbs on Iranian diplomats in New York who were barred from all but a few blocks around the United Nations and their mission.

– Warning over inspections –

Under the terms of a bill adopted by its conservative-dominated parliament in December, Iran will restrict some inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency if the United States does not lift its sanctions imposed since 2018 by Sunday.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi is to travel to Tehran on Saturday for talks with the Iranian authorities to find a solution.

A joint statement by the four foreign ministers after the virtual meeting convened by France urged “Iran to consider the consequences of such grave action, particularly at this time of renewed diplomatic opportunity.”

The United States and Iran have had no diplomatic relations for four decades but they began frequent contact to negotiate the 2015 nuclear deal.

The nuclear accord was adamantly opposed by Iran’s regional rivals Israel and Saudi Arabia, which both enjoyed tight partnerships with Trump.

While Iran’s policy is ultimately determined by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian presidential elections in June add another time pressure factor.

Rouhani — a key advocate of nuclear diplomacy with global powers — is set to step down after serving the maximum two consecutive terms, and a more hardline figure is likely to replace him.

AFP

US Extends Iraq Sanctions Waiver Until Before Biden Inauguration

US President-elect Joe Biden answers questions from the press at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on November 16, 2020. ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP
US President-elect Joe Biden answers questions from the press at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on November 16, 2020. ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP

 

Washington has granted Iraq a shortened 45-day sanctions waiver to import Iranian gas that will expire days before US President Donald Trump’s term ends, an Iraqi official said Saturday.

Baghdad buys gas and electricity from its neighbour Tehran to supply about a third of its power sector, worn down by years of conflict and poor maintenance.

The US blacklisted Iran’s energy industry in late 2018 but granted Baghdad a series of temporary waivers, hoping Iraq would wean itself off Iranian energy by partnering with US firms.

The lengths of the exemptions have become a key tool in US policy towards Iraq, demonstrating the level of satisfaction or frustration with Baghdad.

In May, Washington granted Iraq a four-month extension as a gesture of goodwill towards Mustafa al-Kadhemi, who had just formed a cabinet seen as US-friendly.

But when it renewed the waiver in late September, the Trump administration gave Iraq just 60 days.

This time, it went even shorter: 45 days, a top Iraqi official told AFP, expiring around a week before Trump is set to hand over the White House to President-elect Joe Biden.

“They (the Trump administration) wanted the last opportunity to have a say,” the official said.

The shorter waiver comes amid concern by Iraqi and Western officials that Trump could use his final days in office to strike at Iran and its allies in Iraq.

The State Department is drawing up plans for a possible closure of the American embassy in Baghdad, which has been targeted by dozens of rocket attacks in the last year.

And two Iraqi officials have said they expect a “bucket list of sanctions” against Iranian interests in Iraq ahead of the White House handover.

Iran Vows To Take ‘Any Opportunity’ To Lift US Sanctions

 

File photo of the Iranian flag

 

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani vowed Wednesday to take “any opportunity” to lift US sanctions against Tehran, following President Donald Trump’s defeat by Democratic election rival Joe Biden.

While the outgoing Trump has declared Iran an arch-foe and sought to isolate it globally, president-elect Biden has proposed to offer Iran a “credible path back to diplomacy”.

“Our aim is to lift the pressure of sanctions from the shoulders of our people,” Rouhani said in televised remarks during a weekly cabinet meeting.

“Wherever this favourable opportunity arises we will act on our responsibilities. No one should miss any opportunity.”

“National security and national interests are not factional and partisan issues,” Rouhani added after conservatives blasted his reformist and moderate coalition for its “over-excitement” for re-engagement with the Islamic republic’s nemesis.

Decades-old tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated after Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a landmark Iran nuclear deal in 2018 and reimposed, then reinforced, crippling sanctions.

Those moves torpedoed the deal, Rouhani’s signature foreign policy achievement, and bolstered conservatives who argue that the US cannot be trusted.

The measures have all but deprived Iran of vital oil revenues and isolated its banks, triggering a harsh recession and slashing the value of the rial.

Rouhani acknowledged Biden’s conciliatory remarks during his campaign but said Tehran was prepared for sanctions to remain in place.

“They can choose a new path. And if they do not want to, it is their choice,” he told the cabinet.

He noted that his administration had devised its policies on the assumption Trump would stay in office.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week that the result of the US election would have “no effect” on Tehran’s policies towards Washington.

-AFP

US, Iran Battle Over Sanctions At World Court

A file photo of a court gavel.
A file photo of a court gavel.

 

The United States and Iran will face off at the UN’s top court on Monday in the latest round of a battle over sanctions on Tehran reimposed by President Donald Trump.

Tehran dragged Washington to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in 2018 after Trump pulled the US out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran.

They will argue over the coming week about whether the court, set up after World War II to deal with disputes between UN member states, actually has jurisdiction in the case.

Iran says the sanctions brought back by the Trump administration breach the 1955 “Treaty of Amity” between the two countries, signed long before the 1979 Iranian revolution severed ties.

Tehran won an early victory in October 2018 when the ICJ ordered sanctions on humanitarian goods to be eased as an emergency measure while the overall lawsuit is dealt with.

The US responded by formally ending the treaty, agreed when Iran was ruled by the Western-oriented shah, and accusing Iran of using the ICJ for “propaganda” purposes.

The United States will first address the court on Monday at 1300 GMT about whether judges have jurisdiction in the case, while Iran will speak on Wednesday.

A decision on that issue could take several months, while a final judgment will take years.

– ‘Unclean hands’ –

Relations between Washington and Tehran have been tense since the Iranian revolution, and have spiralled since Trump unilaterally pulled out of the nuclear deal in May 2018.

The deal, involving the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus Germany — had limited Iran’s nuclear programme.

Washington then reimposed sanctions on Iran and companies with ties to it, notably hitting Iran’s vital oil sector and central bank, while major global firms halted their activities in Iran.

Tehran took the case to the ICJ and, in response to Iran’s request for so-called “provisional measures” while the case is resolved, the judges two years ago found that some of the sanctions breached the 1955 treaty.

The court ordered Washington to lift measures on medicines, medical equipment, food, agricultural goods, and airplane parts and services.

The ICJ is also dealing with a separate case over Tehran’s bid to unfreeze $2 billion in assets frozen in the United States.

In February 2019 the court said the case could go ahead, rejecting US arguments that Iran’s “unclean hands” — Tehran’s alleged backing for terror groups — should disqualify its lawsuit.

AFP

EU Trade Sanctions On Cambodia Come Into Force

 

The European Union reimposed customs duties on many of Cambodia’s exports on Wednesday, suspending its trade arrangement over concerns about human rights.

Trade commissioner Phil Hogan stressed that while Brussels stands by Cambodia in battling the coronavirus, “Our continued support does not diminish the urgent need for Cambodia to respect human rights and labour rights.”

“We have provided Cambodia with trade opportunities that let the country develop an export-oriented industry and gave jobs to thousands of Cambodians,” he said.

Now, Cambodia has lost its access to the EU’s “Everything But Arms” trade arrangement for least developed countries, which will hit typical exports such as garments, footwear and travel goods.

These products represent around 20 percent of Cambodia’s exports to the EU and will now be subject to the general tariffs applied under World Trade Organisation rules.

Hogan said he would restore tariff-free access if the EU sees “substantial improvement” in Cambodia’s human rights record.

Cambodia’s textile sector employs 700,000 people. Total trade between the two partners was 5.6 billion euros last year.

AFP

US Threatens Sanctions On Venezuelan Lawmakers Over Bribes

President Donald Trump and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guadio

 

The United States will consider sanctions against Venezuelan lawmakers accused of taking bribes to vote against opposition leader Juan Guaido, an official said Wednesday.

Guaido, recognized as Venezuela’s interim president by the United States and more than 50 other nations, was sworn in Tuesday for another term after a chaotic standoff in which troops physically stopped him from entering Congress.

The United States has already imposed wide sanctions aimed at toppling leftist President Nicolas Maduro’s regime and cutting off his government’s key funding source of oil.

Guaido and the United States say Maduro’s government offered bribes to members of the National Assembly, Venezuela’s sole institution controlled by the opposition, in hopes of defeating Guaido.

“There are people who have been engaged in corrupt activity that may have gotten themselves on the radar screen for the first time in the last few days,” a senior US official told reporters in Washington.

He said he was speaking of “people taking money from people that are already under sanctions in the United States.”

“We don’t put sanctions on people for the way they vote,” he said, adding that if individuals “aid or abet or profit from the anti-democratic behavior of the regime, you could be subjected to sanctions.”

Despite a crumbling economy that has sent millions fleeing Venezuela, Maduro remains in power with support from the country’s military as well as Russia, China, and Cuba.

The US is also “looking at additional sanctions” in response to growing Russian support for Maduro, Elliot Abrams, the State Department’s Venezuela envoy, said on Monday.

Trump Warns Iran Of ‘Major Retaliation,’ Threatens Sanctions On Iraq

 

US President Donald Trump threatened “major retaliation” Sunday if Iran avenges the killing of a key military commander and he warned of massive economic sanctions against ally Iraq if the country expels US troops based there.

The twin threats came as Iran announced it was further reducing compliance with a tattered international nuclear accord, ending limitations on numbers of centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

The latest blow to the accord, which was meant to ensure Iran did not develop a nuclear weapon under cover of its nuclear industry, deepened the regional crisis set off by Friday’s killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.

Trump ordered a US drone to fire a missile at Soleimani, one of the most influential people in Iran’s government, when he was near the Iraqi capital’s international airport.

Angry, black-clad mourners thronged the streets of Iran’s second city Mashhad on Sunday to pay last respects to the remains of Soleimani and chant “death to America.”

Trump bluntly warned Iran against taking vengeance, repeating his insistence that US bombing targets could include Iran’s cultural heritage sites. Critics say that would qualify as a war crime under international law.

“If they do anything there will be major retaliation,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One, as he flew back to Washington — and a looming Senate impeachment trial — from vacation in Florida.

Trump had already threatened bombing of 52 unspecified targets in Iran if Tehran attacks US troops and interests in the region.

In his latest comments, he was adamant that targets could include places of cultural significance in a country boasting an ancient heritage and two dozen UNESCO-listed sites.

“They’re allowed to kill our people,” a defiant Trump said. “They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way.”

 Iraq tensions also soar 

The situation in neighboring Iraq, a US ally, also deteriorated, with the future of some 5,200 American soldiers there in doubt.

Many Iraqis have expressed outrage over the killing of Soleimani, who masterminded deep Iranian influence in the country. A top Iraqi military figure Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was killed in the same US strike.

In Baghdad, unidentified attackers launched a pair of rockets Sunday, hitting near the US embassy in the high-security Green Zone for the second night in a row. That was just hours after Iraq’s foreign ministry summoned the American ambassador over the drone strike.

And Iraq’s parliament voted to request the government end an agreement with a US-led international coalition to fight the hardline Islamist group IS in the region.

If the government agreed, that would effectively require the departure of US soldiers supporting the local troops in the anti-IS fight.

Caretaker prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, who called the US drone strike a “political assassination,” indicated he would back the troops’ ouster. He said the choices were immediate expulsion or withdrawal under a timeframe.

Trump told reporters that a forced departure of US troops would prompt sanctions even worse than those already imposed, to devastating effect, on Iran’s economy.

“If they do ask us to leave — if we don’t do it in a very friendly basis — we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before,” Trump said.

“It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame.”

Trump said the main US base in Iraq was “very extraordinarily expensive.”

“We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it,” he said.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sounded a softer note, saying “the Iraqi people want the United States to continue to be there to fight the counterterror campaign.”

 Threats and revenge calls 

Soleimani was one of Iran’s most popular public figures, seen as a hero of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

He was also the key figure behind Iran’s effective network of proxy militias and alliances across a region where Iran is in often deadly rivalry with US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has vowed “severe revenge.”

What that will look like is the subject of heated speculation in the Pentagon and the White House. Analysts say Iran may be limited in its room for maneuver if it wants to avoid full war with the far more powerful United States.

But a former head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards threatened on Sunday to turn the Israeli cities of Haifa and Tel Aviv “to dust” if the US attacks targets in Iran.

And Khamenei’s military adviser, Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan, told CNN that Iran’s response to the assassination “for sure will be military and against military sites.”

The crisis comes as Trump is embroiled in his own domestic political turmoil. He was impeached by the House of Representatives for abuse of office and obstruction of Congress.

The Senate, where his Republican party has a commanding majority, is wrangling over when and how a trial will take place, as the clock ticks down on the November presidential elections.

AFP

EU To Prolong Russia Sanctions

 

EU leaders will renew economic sanctions against Russia when they meet for a summit this week, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Monday.

Maas said he saw no reason to relax the measures imposed on Moscow over its role in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The sanctions target whole sectors of the Russian economy, including its valuable oil and gas industries.

European measures were first put in place after Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 people, and EU leaders have renewed them every six months ever since.

France is hosting a highly-anticipated four-way summit with Russia, Ukraine and Germany on Monday in the hope of making progress towards peace in Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been pushing for a thaw between Europe and Russia, but Maas said it was too early to ease sanctions.

“We will continue what we thought was right so far — to extend the sanctions — because the reasons that led to the sanctions continue to exist,” Maas said as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

“At the moment, for me there is no reason to change anything in the sanctions policy of the European Union towards Russia.”

Monday’s meeting in Paris of Macron, Russian leader Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is the first so-called “Normandy Format” summit in three years.

It seeks to implement accords signed in Minsk in 2015 that call for the withdrawal of heavy weapons, the restoration of Kiev’s control over its borders, wider autonomy for Donetsk and Lugansk, and the holding of local elections.

Thousands have been killed since pro-Russia militias in eastern Ukraine launched a bid for independence in 2014, kicking off a conflict that deepened Russia’s estrangement from the West.

The EU insists the Minsk accords must be implemented if sanctions are to be lifted or relaxed.

AFP

Syria: Turkey Defiant As US Demands Ceasefire

 

Turkey rebuffed international pressure to curb its military offensive against Kurdish militants in Syria on Wednesday as US President Donald Trump dispatched his deputy Mike Pence to Ankara to demand a ceasefire.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed Turkey’s operation — which has been facilitated by the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria — would continue.

The only way to solve Syria’s problems, Erdogan told parliament, was for the Kurdish forces to “lay down their arms… destroy all their traps and get out of the safe zone that we have designated.”

But clashes continued across the region, with Kurdish fighters in the border town of Ras al-Ain burning tyres in a bid to blind Ankara’s warplanes and digging in against a ground offensive by Turkish-backed Syrian rebels.

“We are fully prepared to wage battles,” an official from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) told AFP. “The real battle has yet to start.”

Having struck a deal with Damascus over the weekend, Kurdish forces have joined with Syrian troops to take an abandoned US base between Kobani and Ain Issa, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Turkish operation, now in its second week, has triggered a flurry of diplomacy among major powers.

Trump sent Pence along with his top diplomat Mike Pompeo to Turkey amid the greatest crisis in relations for decades between the NATO allies, with talks due in Ankara early Thursday.

Facing a barrage of criticism in Washington for abandoning the Kurds, Trump has slapped sanctions on three Turkish ministers and raised tariffs on its steel industry.

Pence’s office said the US would pursue “punishing economic sanctions” unless there was “an immediate ceasefire”.

But Trump again dismissed the idea that pulling out 1,000 troops — practically the entire US contingent in the region — had been a betrayal of Kurdish militants who bore the brunt of the fight against the Islamic State group in recent years.

“The Kurds are very well protected,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “By the way, they are not angels.”

– Russia steps in –

Moscow has stepped into the void left by the US withdrawal, deploying patrols to prevent clashes between Syrian and Turkish forces.

Russian TV showed its forces alongside Syrian government troops taking up positions in and around the town of Manbij.

The Kremlin said it would host Erdogan for a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the coming days, to ensure the operation does not turn into all-out war between Turkey and Syria.

The Turkish government can count on widespread support for its operation at home, where decades of bloody insurgency by Kurdish militants have killed tens of thousands of people.

But Western powers fear it will endanger the battle against the Islamic State group. Thousands of IS prisoners are held in Kurdish-run camps in the region.

Europe has taken an increasingly tough line with Turkey and several countries, including Britain, France and Germany, have imposed arms embargoes on Turkey over the operation.

– Battle for border town –

The Kurdish-led SDF has mounted a desperate defence to the east of Ras al-Ain, using tunnels, berms and trenches.

A Syrian fighter serving alongside Ankara’s forces said his forces were trying to cut Kurdish supply lines from nearby Hassakeh to facilitate their advance on the town.

Since launching their assault on October 9, Turkey and its Syrian rebel proxies have secured more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) of border, but Ras al-Ain has held out.

Erdogan, who like Trump faces political difficulties at home, wants to create a buffer zone stretching 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the border into Syrian territory.

He wants to destroy Kurdish hopes of an autonomous enclave that could serve as a launching pad for attacks in Turkey, and to resettle some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees Ankara is hosting.

Erdogan said that once the safe zone was established, “stretching from Manbij to the Iraqi border”, then the operation would have “ended on its own”.

The offensive has left dozens of civilians dead, mostly on the Kurdish side, and displaced at least 160,000 people.

Turkey Faces ‘Big Sanctions’ Over Syria Actions – Trump

US President Donald Trump speaks to the press on the South Lawn of the White House before departing in Washington, DC on August 9, 2019.  Nicholas Kamm / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump warned Monday that Turkey faces imminent sanctions over its incursion into northeastern Syria against Kurdish militia, but also signalled Washington would avoid armed conflict with Ankara.

“Big sanctions on Turkey coming!” Trump said, after Turkish attacks stepped up over the weekend on the Syrian Kurds, who had allied with the US war against the Islamic State group.

But Trump also suggested the Kurds were trying to draw the United States into a broader, alleging they were deliberately freeing some Islamic State prisoners “to get us involved” in the conflict.

“Do people really think we should go to war with NATO Member Turkey?” Trump said, ruing “never ending wars.”

“The same people who got us into the Middle East mess are the people who most want to stay there!”

Trump over the weekend ordered around 1,000 US troops in northern Syria pulled back from the border region to avoid getting caught in the fighting.

“We have American forces likely caught between two opposing advancing armies and it’s a very untenable situation,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

AFP

US Sanctions Putin’s Ally, Others Over 2018 Elections Interference

Russian president-elect Vladimir Putin takes the oath of office during a ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 7, 2018. PHOTO: Alexander ASTAFYEV / SPUTNIK / AFP

 

The United States on Monday slapped fresh sanctions on a businessman tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as to a disinformation operation accused of conspiring to manipulate the 2018 midterm elections.

The financial sanctions, which target Russian financier Evgeny Prigozhin, some of his assets and the so-called Internet Research Agency, are the first to be taken under an executive order signed last year President Donald Trump seeking to punish foreign actors accused of interfering in US elections.

“Treasury is targeting the private planes, yacht, and associated front companies of Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the Russian financier behind the Internet Research Agency and its attempts to subvert American democratic processes,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

The announcement follows shortly after a Washington Post report that Trump told senior visiting Russian officials in 2017 he was not concerned by Russian efforts to sway the 2016 election in his favor.

The sanctions announced Monday marked the third time the US had added Prigozhin’s name to its list of foreign nationals formally barred from the US financial system, a move which freezes him out of much of the global financial system as well.

US prosecutors last year indicted the Internet Research Agency as well as alleged employees, charging them with a broad conspiracy to influence the 2016 elections by spreading disinformation in the United States via social media.

The Treasury said Monday the IRA had announced its intention to do likewise in the 2018 midterms by seeking to discredit candidates it viewed as hostile to Moscow.

There was no evidence they were successful in preventing voting, altered vote counts or disrupted vote tallying, the Treasury said.

Treasury announced it was also designating six IRA members — Dzheykhun Nasimi Ogly Aslanov, Mikhail Leonidovich Burchik, Vadim Vladimirovich Podkopaev, Vladimir Dmitriyevich Venkov, Igor Vladimirovich Nesterov and Denis Igorevich Kuzmi — for acting to interfere in the 2018 elections.

Treasury also announced it was placing sanctions on three aircraft and a yacht belonging to Prigozhin and three entities incorporated in the Seychelles which he used to manage these properties.

Identifying the aircraft and vessels serves as a warning to others, the Treasury said, that by continuing to provide service or landing rights they “may also be subject to future sanctions.”

AFP

Iran: Beijing Condemns US Sanctions On Chinese Companies

(FILES)(COMBO) This combination of file pictures created on April 4, 2017 shows US President Donald Trump in St. Louis, Missouri on October 9, 2016 and China’s leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on December 5, 2012. Ed Jones, Paul J. RICHARDS / AFP

 

 

Beijing voiced “strong dissatisfaction” on Thursday after the United States announced sanctions on Chinese companies for buying Iranian oil.

China, which is embroiled in a trade war as well as myriad other disputes with Washington, is believed to be the biggest foreign buyer of Iranian oil.

Speaking to a pressure group opposed to the Iranian regime on the sidelines of the United Nations, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday the actions were in response to violations of unilateral US sanctions.

He said sanctions were being placed both on the companies and on their chief executives.

“China expresses strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition to the sanctions imposed by the United States on Chinese enterprises and individuals,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing on Thursday.

“Despite the legitimate rights and interests of all parties, the United States wielded a wanton stick of sanctions, which is a gross violation of the basic norms of international relations,” Geng said.

 

AFP