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U.S. imposes more sanctions on Iran
The United States announced a new raft of sanctions on Iran on Monday (November 5) and threatened further action to pressure its old adversary, steps the Islamic Republic vowed to defy. The move is part of a wider effort by U.S. President Donald Trump to curb Tehran's missile and nuclear programmes and diminish the Islamic Republic's influence in the Middle East. It follows Washington's withdrawal from an 2015 international agreement on Iran's nuclear programme. "We are making it abundantly clear to the Iranian regime that they will face mounting financial isolation until they fundamentally change their destabilizing behavior," U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during a press conference at the State Department. The sanctions cover 50 Iranian banks and subsidiaries, more than 200 persons and vessels in its shipping sector, and targets Tehran's national airline, Iran Air, and more than 65 of its aircraft, Mnuchin said. Hours earlier, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the "bullying" restoration of oil and banking curbs was backfiring by making Washington more isolated, a reference to other world powers opposed to the initiative. European powers which continue to back the nuclear deal said they opposed the reapplication of sanctions and major oil buyer China said it regretted the move. The move is part of a wider effort by Trump to force Iran to further limit its nuclear work and halt a missile program, as well as end its support for proxy forces in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East. Switzerland said it was holding talks with the United States and Iran about launching a humanitarian payment channel to help food and drugs keep flowing to Tehran. U.S. sanctions permit trade in humanitarian goods such as food and pharmaceuticals, but measures imposed on banks and trade restrictions could make such items more expensive. "The Iranian regime has a choice: It can either do a 180 degree turn from its outlaw course of action and act like a normal country or it can see its economy crumble. We hope a new agreement with Iran is possible. But until Iran makes changes in the 12 ways that I listed in May, we will be relentless in exerting pressure on the regime," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during the press conference. However, Iran's clerical rulers have dismissed concerns about the impact of sanctions on the economy. Trump announced in May his government was withdrawing from what he called the "worst ever" agreement negotiated by the United States. The other parties to the deal - Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia - say they will not leave.