TEHRAN — The US reimposed all sanctions Monday on Iran that once were lifted under its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, grinding further down on the Islamic Republic’s already-ailing economy in what President Hassan Rouhani described as a “war situation” now facing Tehran.
Iran ran televised air defense drills showing soldiers cheering the downing of a drone, but otherwise held back from any military response over US efforts to curtail what Washington calls its “malign activities” across the Middle East. While previously warning it could ramp up its nuclear program, Iran still honors the atomic accord now limiting its enrichment of uranium, according to the United Nations.
As Iranian officials struck a martial tone, the strain could be felt on the streets of Tehran. It lurked in shops emptied by the country’s rapidly depreciating currency. It could be felt in the lines at currency exchange shops. And it could be heard in the stress of the voices of people struggling to buy medicine.
“When the dollar rate went up, prices for medicine went up by 80 percent,” said a man who identified himself only as Amidi, who suffers from mental illness and has a son with cancer. “I can’t buy my own medicine anymore. I haven’t taken my medicine for two months, because I can’t afford it.”
The US Treasury Department imposed penalties on more than 700 Iranian and Iranian-linked individuals, entities, aircraft and vessels in the new sanctions. Among those are 50 Iranian banks and subsidiaries, more than 200 people and ships, Iran’s state-run airline Iran Air and more than 65 of its planes.
The new sanctions particularly hurt Iran’s vital oil industry, which provides a crucial source of hard currency. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told journalists in Washington the sanctions already had cost Iran the sale of over 1 million barrels of crude oil a day.
“Our objective is to starve the Iranian regime of the revenue it uses to fund violent and destabilizing activities throughout the Middle East and, indeed, around the world,” Pompeo said.
“The Iranian regime has a choice: It can either do a 180-degree turn from its outlawed course of action and act like a normal country or it can see its economy crumble,” he added.