As Trump's sanctions bite, Iran's oil exports slide further in June

24 Juin, 2019, 23:24 | Auteur: Auguste Feret

Iran shot down a us drone last week, and, after halting plans for a military strike, on Monday President Donald Trump responded by increasing economic sanctions on the country.

Iran claims to have shot down the drone while it was over Iranian territory, however the U.S. has denied any drone was in that airspace.

The sultanate of Oman, meanwhile, said reports that it had served as a back channel for the United States to Iran in the aftermath of last week's drone shooting were "not true".

Washington, which said the drone was in global skies, then appeared to come close to attacking Iranian military targets, with Trump saying that he aborted a retaliatory air strike 10 minutes before it was to go ahead. Trump seeks to drive Iranian oil exports to zero to force Tehran to abandon support for militant groups in the Middle East and renegotiate the 2015 nuclear accord the USA quit a year ago.

In addition to being a close regional partner, Saudi Arabia was also the world's top buyer of US weapons, a fact that Trump has often highlighted in defending his administration's close ties to the kingdom.

At home, Trump has taken criticism for sending mixed messages to Iran.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard has the capacity to act, though Tehran denies Washington's assertion that the Revolutionary Guard was behind recent attacks on cargo ships in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. has insisted that it was over worldwide waters and called this an "unprovoked attack".

Trump said in a series of tweets Saturday about the sanctions that he looks forward to the day when "sanctions come off Iran, and they become a productive and prosperous national again - The sooner the better!"

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The United States has embarked on a "maximum pressure campaign" to isolate Iran and roll back its influence in the region. Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone.

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What happened to the United States drone?

The US has already sanctioned more than 80 per cent of Iran's economy, according to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo.

But even as Pompeo delivered his tough talk, he echoed Trump and vice president Mike Pence in saying the U.S.is prepared to negotiate with Iran, without preconditions, in a bid to ease tensions.

In May 2018, the White House reinstated all sanctions removed under a 2015 nuclear deal made with world powers which sought to prevent Iran creating its own nuclear weapon.

"We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran", Trump told reporters.

The United States accuses Iran of encouraging allies in Yemen to attack Saudi targets.

These sanctions come in addition those announced by the USA earlier since President Trump pulled the United States out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, also called the Iran nuclear deal) demanding Iran should shut down its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programmes and give up "malign activities" in the region. USA officials have declined to comment. "Okay? And I only say they spend $400 to $450 billion over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment". Trump's administration has said the deal struck under his predecessor President Barack Obama did not do enough.

Iran's semi-official Tasnim and Fars news agencies said America had imposed new sanctions on Iran "based on fabricated excuses".

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