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Pompeo Confirms U.S. Will Reimpose Sanctions, EU Disagrees

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is welcomed by EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini ahead of a meeting at the EEAS building in Brussels, July 12, 2018
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is welcomed by EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini ahead of a meeting at the EEAS building in Brussels, July 12, 2018

The United States plans to detail its fresh package of sanctions against Iran on August 6, amid criticism from the European Union.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that the United States would "enforce the sanctions" it is reimposing after President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear pact that Iran signed with six world powers.

Pompeo, who was en route to Washington after attending a summit in Singapore, said the White House would detail the sanctions in an announcement scheduled for August 6, although he did not immediately disclose the time.

U.S. officials said that as part of the sanctions, the Iranian government would no longer be able to buy U.S. banknotes as of 0401 GMT (6:01 a.m. CET, 00:01 EST) on August 7.

They added that sweeping sanctions will be imposed on the country’s industries, including exports of its famed Persian carpets.

An August 6 statement by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and foreign ministers of France, Germany, and Britain said the EU "deeply regrets" the reimposition of the sanctions.

The 2015 deal "is working and delivering on its goal" of limiting Iran's nuclear program, it said. "We deeply regret the reimposition of sanctions by the U.S., due to the latter's withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)."

Pompeo said the intensified pressure on Tehran was designed to "push back against Iranian malign activity."

He added that the Iranian people "are unhappy with the failure of their own leadership to deliver the economic promises that their leadership promised them."

"This is just about Iranians' dissatisfaction with their own government, and the president is pretty clear: We want the Iranian people to have a strong voice in who their leadership will be," he added.

Asked if Iran would be able to evade the new sanctions, Pompeo told reporters that "the United States is going to enforce the sanctions."

But the EU statement said that the Iran deal is "crucial for the security of Europe, the region and the entire world."

It added that the 28-member bloc would now rapidly implement legal protection for EU companies to work with Iran, after the Trump administration rejected European calls for an exemption.

"We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran," the statement said.

Iran's economy has rapidly deteriorated in recent months partially due to fears over the imposition of further U.S. sanctions, igniting street protests in many Iranian cities over economic hardships.

The Iranian rial has been particularly hard hit on expectations of U.S. restrictions on currency transactions.

Iranian state TV on August 5 said the country will ease its foreign-exchange rules in a bid to halt the collapse of the rial, which has lost about half its value since April.

On the same day, Iranian authorities detained Ahmad Araqchi, a deputy Central Bank governor in charge of foreign exchange.

A spokesman for the judiciary was quoted as saying without elaboration that he was dismissed from the post the previous day before being detained for alleged economic crimes.

The 2015 landmark nuclear deal provided Tehran with some relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

Trump pulled the United States out of the deal in May, saying Iran was not living up to the spirit of the accord and vowed to reimpose sanctions.

Despite recent harsh rhetoric, Trump on July 30 said he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rohani with "no preconditions" to discuss ways of improving ties between the two countries.

A day later, Iran's Foreign Ministry rebuffed Trump's offer, saying such talks would have "no value" and be a "humiliation."

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters