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July 3, 2018 2:03 pm

State Department Warns Foreign Companies Not to Expect Exemptions Under Tough Renewed Iran Sanctions

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The US State Department building in Washington, DC. Photo: Reuters / Joshua Roberts.

Foreign companies would be unwise to expect US waivers or other exemptions on the conduct of business with Iran once renewed sanctions on the Tehran regime take hold, a senior State Department official has confirmed.

“We are not looking to grant licenses or waivers broadly on the re-imposition of sanctions, because we believe pressure is critical to achieve our national security objectives,” said Brian Hook — director of policy planning at the State Department — said at a press briefing on Tuesday.

“This is a campaign of imposing pressure [on Iran],” Hook emphasized. His comments came as he outlined the Trump administration’s broader policy toward Tehran in the wake of May’s decision to walk away from the JCPOA — the July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran widely regarded as the signature foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration.

The renewed sanctions announced in place of the JCPOA will take effect in two phases, Hook said.

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“The first part of our sanctions will snap back on August 6,” he explained. “These sanctions will include targeting Iran’s automotive sector, trade in gold, and other key metals.”

He continued that the remaining sanctions “will snap back on November 4. These sanctions will include targeting Iran’s energy sector and petroleum-based transactions, and transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.”

Hook stressed that the goal of the sanctions was not to punish the Iranian people, but to change the behavior of the ruling mullahs.

“Our sanctions do not now, nor have they ever, targeted humanitarian goods,” Hook said. “Our sanctions pressure the Iranian regime into changing its behavior and they do not target the Iranian people. The United States does not sanction the export of food or medicine to Iran.”

Hook paid tribute to the protests that have gathered momentum in Iran over the last three weeks.

“As the regime continues to crack down on these legitimate calls for reform in Tehran, Khorramshahr, and elsewhere with more repression and even greater violence, the United States stands with the Iranian people,” he said.

Hook pointed out that since withdrawing from the Iran deal, “the United States has sanctioned 53 individuals and entities for human rights abuses, proliferation activities, or acts of terrorism, and we will continue to do so.”

He declared: “A people with as rich a history and as deep a culture as the Iranian people deserve a government that treats them with dignity.”

Hook noted that in explaining the US shift on Iran to European allies, there was already in place “a position of broad agreement on wanting to deter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East and its support for terrorism.”

“No one supports Iran’s terrorism in the world except perhaps (Syrian dictator Bashar) al-Assad,” Hook observed. “And so we feel like we have enormous agreement with countries around the world on what we need to do to deter Iran’s violence.”

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