Iran sanctions: "Maximum" economic pressure, Treasury's Mnuchin says

Iranian students rally outside the former US embassy in Tehran Nov. 4 2018

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.

The rollout was the largest ever single-day action targeting the Iranian regime and a crucial step in President Trump's pullout from the Iran nuclear deal that was announced in May.

The Trump administration has reimposed all sanctions previously put on hold under the Obama-era Iran Nuclear Deal.

The US on Monday unleashed its "toughest ever" sanctions against Iran, a move that has already sparked mass protests in the oil-rich nation.

Swift now needs to decide whether or not to abide by the US demand - a decision that could involve breaking European Union rules - although it may well be that banks will now shun Iranian transactions whatever Swift decides.

Pompeo defended the Trump administration's reimposition of sanctions against Iran from conservative critics who argue more should be done to isolate the country.

However, Iran's clerical rulers have dismissed concerns about the impact of sanctions on the economy.

'We are in the economic war situation. They wrote the government has "no powers to force commercial banks" to do business with Iran. "We are prepared to resist any pressure", Rouhani said.

This time, however, the US sanctions are stoking up worldwide tensions to a more severe degree.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commander added, "Our enemies intend to isolate us like an island but today the page has turned and Americans themselves are being gradually isolated, as even their traditional allies" are distancing themselves from the U.S.

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President Donald Trump stands with Lee Greenwood as he sings "God Bless the USA" to start a rally with supporters in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Iranian state media said millions turned out in towns and cities, swearing allegiance to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, although the BBC was unable to independently verify this figure.

Under US law, exceptions can be granted for up to 180 days.

In parallel with the imposition of the crude oil sanctions, the US Treasury Department is placing more than 600 Iranian individuals and entities on a black list.

The US says the sanctions are not aimed at toppling the government, but at persuading it to radically change its policies, including its support for regional militant groups and its development of long-range ballistic missiles.

"The aim is to drive Iranian oil exports to zero".

They have promised to support European firms that do "legitimate business" with Iran and have set up an alternative payment mechanism - or Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) - that will help companies trade without facing USA penalties. As long as Iran met its obligations under the deal, Britain would be committed to it too.

However, the Trump administration has granted temporary exemptions to eight countries to continue importing Iranian oil - China, India, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey. We've got Brent crude at about the same price it was back in May when the president announced the withdrawal from the JCPOA. US light crude was 15 cents lower at $62.99.

The curbs come as the United States is focused on USA congressional and gubernatorial elections on Tuesday. "If you wanted negotiations, first of all, the easiest way of doing so would be to actually honor the existing deal and ask for additional negotiations on top of the existing deal", he said. "Right now they just want to survive", he told a rally in Tennessee, Reuters reported.

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