BEIRUT/LONDON, (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump

pledged on Monday that firms doing business with Tehran would be

barred from the United States as new U.S. sanctions against Iran

took effect in spite of pleas from Washington`s allies.

Iran dismissed a last-minute offer from the Trump

administration for talks, saying it could not negotiate while

Washington had reneged on a 2015 deal to lift sanctions in

return for curbs on Iran`s nuclear programme.

Trump decided this year to pull out of the agreement,

ignoring pleas from the other world powers that had co-sponsored

the deal, including Washington`s main European allies Britain,

France and Germany, as well as Russia and China.

The European countries have promised to try to mitigate the

impact of renewed U.S. sanctions to persuade Tehran to continue

to abide by the deal`s terms. But that has proven difficult:

European companies have pulled out of Iran, arguing that they

cannot risk the prospect of damage to their U.S. business.

"These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in

November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing

business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United

States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!" Trump

tweeted on Tuesday.

White House national security adviser John Bolton said on

Monday Iran`s only chance of escaping sanctions would be to take

up an offer to negotiate with Trump for a tougher deal.

"They could take up the president`s offer to negotiate with

them, to give up their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons

programs fully and really verifiably," Bolton told Fox News.

"If the ayatollahs want to get out from under the squeeze,

they should come and sit down. The pressure will not relent

while the negotiations go on," said Bolton, one of the

administration`s main hawks on Iran.


Washington accepts that Iran has complied with the terms of

the 2015 deal reached under Trump`s predecessor Barack Obama,

but says the agreement is flawed because it is not strenuous


Iran says it will continue to abide by the deal for now,

if other countries can help protect it from the economic impact

of Washington`s decision to pull out.

The sanctions that took effect on Tuesday target Iranian

purchases of U.S. dollars, metals trading, coal, industrial

software and its auto sector.

In a speech hours before the sanctions were due to take

effect, Iran`s President Hassan Rouhani rejected negotiations as

long as Washington was no longer complying with the deal.

"If you stab someone with a knife and then you say you want

talks, then the first thing you have to do is remove the knife,"

Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state television.

"We are always in favor of diplomacy and talks...But talks

need honesty," Rouhani said.

He dismissed the proposal for talks as a stunt to sow chaos

in Iran and confuse American voters at home ahead of mid-term

elections in November. He said Washington was becoming isolated

internationally and would come to regret imposing sanctions

against the views of its allies and other world powers.

The nuclear deal is closely associated in Iran with Rouhani,

a relative moderate who won two landslide elections on promises

to open up the economy to the outside world.

European countries fear that by abandoning the deal,

Washington risks undermining Rouhani and strengthening the hand

of his more hardline opponents, who have long argued that the

West would never allow Iran to prosper.

Britain, France, Germany and the EU as a bloc said in a

joint statement on Monday: "We deeply regret the reimposition of

sanctions by the U.S."

Since the sanctions were initially lifted two years ago,

Iranian oil exports have risen. But most Iranians have yet to

see major economic improvement, and the prospect that Washington

would re-impose sanctions helped drive a collapse in the value

of Iran`s currency this year, raising the cost of imports.

There have been protests in Iran this year against rising

prices, and the security forces have responded firmly. Perhaps

seeking to head off more unrest, Iran announced steps this week

to make it easier to access foreign currency, and said it was

prosecuting an ex-central bank official for economic crimes.

" will definitely make daily life harder for

Iranians," said Saeed Leylaz, a Tehran-based economist and

political analyst. "But if the government has a serious plan

they can control the situation."

Few American companies do much business in Iran, an enemy of

the United States since its 1979 Islamic Revolution, so the

impact of any sanctions depends on Washington`s ability to block

European and Asian firms from doing business there.

Among large European companies that have suspended ambitious

plans to invest in Iran in response to Trump`s sanctions are

France`s oil major Total and its big carmakers PSA

and Renault.

"We have ceased our already restricted activities in Iran in

accordance with the applicable sanctions", said German car and

truck manufacturer Daimler.

Sub edit : Mohammad Anthoni

Reporter: Antara
Editor: Bambang Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2018