Bolton: US sanctions biting Iran

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U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton speaks during an interview with Reuters in Jerusalem August 21, 2018. REUTERS/RonenZvulun

JERUSALEM, (Reuters) – Sanctions that the United States reimposed on Iran has been more effective than expected, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said, although he noted the continuation of regional activity by Tehran opposed by Washington.

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The Trump administration slapped back sanctions this month after withdrawing from the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran, which Washington regards as insufficient for denying Tehran the means to make an atomic bomb and as a spur for its meddling in neighbouring Middle East countries.

The US turnaround outraged Iran, which has taken a defiant stance, and has rattled other world powers where some businesses have been debating whether to divest from the Islamic Republic.

“Let me be clear, the reimposition of the sanctions, we think, is already having a significant effect on Iran’s economy and on, really, popular opinion inside Iran,” National Security Adviser John Bolton told Reuters during a visit to Israel.

The Iranian economy has been beset by high unemployment and inflation and a rial currency that has lost half its value since April. The reimposition of sanctions could make matters worse.

Thousands of Iranians have protested in recent weeks against sharp price rises of some food items, a lack of jobs and state corruption. The protests over the cost of living have often turned into anti-government rallies.

“I think the effects, the economic effects certainly, are even stronger than we anticipated,” Mr Bolton said.

“We expect that Europeans will see, as businesses all over Europe are seeing, that the choice between doing business with Iran or doing business with the United States is very clear to them,” Bolton said.

“So we will see what plays out in November. But the president (Trump) has made it very clear – his words – he wants maximum pressure on Iran, maximum pressure, and that is what is going on.”

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