Donald Trump’s decision to cancel the temporary waivers that had enabled countries like Iraq, Turkey, India, Japan and China to continue purchasing Iranian oil without breaching US sanctions has hammered the final nail into the mullahs’ coffin.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo explained that the decision had been taken to “deprive the outlaw regime of the funds it has used to destabilise the Middle East”. The US administration’s goal is to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero.
Coming on top of Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from Barack Obama’s failed nuclear deal and the re-imposition of tough sanctions against the theocratic dictatorship in Tehran, the Iranian economy was already in freefall, with the rial collapsing and inflation soaring against a background of nationwide protests which have continued almost on a daily basis for the past 16 months.
Last week the US also announced that it had added the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) to its list of foreign terrorist organisations. The IRGC controls almost 90 per cent of the Iranian economy, so it will be virtually impossible for anyone to trade with Iran without breaching US sanctions or facing severe penalties for dealing with a listed terrorist organisation.
Now there are calls for the US to blacklist Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence & Security (MOIS), the network of spies and assassins responsible for extra-territorial terror attacks.
In June last year, an Iranian diplomat from its embassy in Vienna was arrested by German police and charged with handing a bomb to two suspected MOIS agents, allegedly instructing them to detonate it at a peaceful opposition rally in Paris.
In December, the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama expelled the Iranian Ambassador and his First Secretary on the grounds that they posed a risk to Albanian security.
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