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November 3, 2018 1:06 pm

Iran’s Khamenei Says the World Opposes Trump as Oil Sanctions Loom

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Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gestures before delivering a speech in Mashad, on March 21, 2018. Photo: Leader.ir / Handout via Reuters.

Iran’s top leader said on Saturday that US President Donald Trump’s policies face opposition across the world as Washington prepared to reimpose sanctions on Iran’s vital oil-exporting and financial sectors, state television reported.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also said Iran’s arch-adversary the United States had failed to reassert its domination over Iran since the country’s 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the US-backed Shah.

“The world opposes every decision made by Trump,” Iranian state television quoted Khamenei, a Shi’ite cleric with ultimate authority in Iran, as saying during a meeting with thousands of students.

“America’s goal has been to reestablish the domination it had (before 1979) but it has failed. America has been defeated by the Islamic Republic over the past 40 years.”

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Washington will on Monday reintroduce far-reaching sanctions on Iran’s vital oil sales and banking sectors to try to force the Islamic Republic into negotiations to scrap its nuclear energy and ballistic missile programs and end its support for proxies in conflicts across the Middle East.

However, the Trump administration said on Friday that eight importing countries would temporarily be allowed to keep buying Iranian oil when sanctions come back into effect. Iran is the world’s No. 3 oil exporter.

Turkey said on Saturday that Ankara had received initial indications from Washington that it would be granted a waiver, but is awaiting clarification on Monday.

Indian Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said his country and other leading oil importers would benefit from the US waivers.

Most international sanctions on Iran were lifted in early 2016 under a deal Iran signed with world powers the year before in which it curbed its uranium enrichment program, widely seen abroad as a disguised effort to develop an atomic bomb.

But Trump denounced the nuclear deal, approved by his predecessor Barack Obama, as flawed in Iran’s favor and withdrew Washington from the pact in May. Trump’s decision was welcomed by Washington’s Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab allies, involved in proxy conflict with Shi’ite Iran for decades.

The United Arab Emirates’ minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said on Saturday that Iran’s “aggressive policies” were “largely responsible” for the reimposition of US sanctions on Tehran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif spoke by telephone with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and his counterparts from Germany, Sweden, and Denmark about pending European measures to counter the US sanctions, Iranian state news agency IRNA reported.

GAME OF THRONES

General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force that oversees its operations abroad, responded to Trump’s Game of Thrones-inspired tweet on Friday that warned, “Sanctions are Coming.”

“I will stand against you,” Soleimani said on Instagram, posting a similarly themed photo and repeating remarks made in July.

The EU, France, Germany, and Britain — all co-signatories, along with Russia and China, to the nuclear deal with Iran — said in a joint statement on Friday they regretted Trump’s decision to restore sanctions on Iran.

Diplomats told Reuters last week that the new EU mechanism to facilitate payments for Iranian exports should be legally in place by Nov. 4 but not operational until early next year. They cautioned, however, that no country had volunteered to host the entity, which was delaying the process.

A senior French diplomat said on Saturday there was no way any trade with this mechanism could be conducted before the end of 2018. For now no other countries, including China, would be part of it, although that could change over time.

The other parties to the nuclear deal see it as an important bulwark against the risk of wider war in the Middle East and have reaffirmed their commitment to it. Iran has said it could leave the pact if the EU cannot protect its economic benefits.

With the sanctions clampdown, Trump is seeking to push Iran to end uranium enrichment outright, and halt its ballistic missile development and support for proxy forces in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere in the Middle East.

“Iran … will not permit the Trump regime, which has made American foreign policy devoid of any principles, to reach its illegitimate goals,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by IRNA.

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