China, Germany defend Iran business ties as US sanctions grip

In a blistering criticism of the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, the four-star U.S. general in charge of United States military of operations in the Middle East said Qasem Soleimani is behind much of Iran's destabilizing activities in the region. Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow worldwide inspections in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

A day later, on Tuesday, European Union (EU) put in place a statute that would prevent European companies from pulling out of Iran without its authorisation.

The first wave of USA sanctions targeting Iran's automotive sector as well as gold, steel, and other metals went into effect Tuesday.

Another important player in the Iran sanctions game is India.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he pulled out of the worldwide nuclear pact because it was "a disgusting, one-sided deal" that "failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb".

The Defense Department announced last week that it was monitoring a major Iranian naval exercise that began August 2 in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz, timed to coincide with the USA reimposition of stringent economic sanctions on Iran restricting trade, export of certain products, and the ability to purchase US currency. "Nobody can do anything", Khamenei said recently, the website reported.

The new United States sanctions, imposed on Tuesday, target Iran's access to dollars and its ability to trade in gold and other precious metals.

The showdown over sanctions demonstrates once again the economic clout of the United States, severely restricting the ability of Germany or any other European country to follow a different policy.

"China has consistently opposed unilateral sanctions and long-armed jurisdiction", the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, addressing Trump's decision Monday to reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

More broadly, Votel condemned Iran for its continued efforts to destabilise other countries in the region, including Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

"We would like to see a change in policy, but there is no way of knowing how long that will take", the official said, adding that "the only hammer available right now is economic, and using that, there is a good chance Iran will fall to its knees".

Al Jazeera's Zein Basravi reports from Tehran.

"If the Americans want to keep this simplistic and impossible idea in their minds they should also know its consequences", Zarif told the Iran newspaper. United States prosecutors indicted several Iranians, alleging they worked at the behest of the Iranian government.

Twenty percent of the world's oil is transported through the Strait of Hormuz each day. The Trump tactics have deepened an already serious economic crisis in Iran, fuelling protests around the country.

"The Americans have assembled a war room against Iran", Zarif said.

As a reminder, and we heard it with our own ears from top American and European officials at the time, the nuclear deal was meant not only to delay Iran's nuclear program, but also to strengthen the "moderate" faction in Tehran and allow it to devote greater attention to the delayed needs of the Iranian people.

  • Anthony Vega