President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that Iran is treating the United States with “much more respect” since he pulled out of the nuclear deal. He expected Tehran to crumble under sanctions and negotiate a new deal soon.
“They’re treating us with much more respect right now than they did in the past,” Trump said after his meeting with NATO leaders in Brussels.
“I know they’re having a lot of problems and their economy is collapsing. But I will tell you this: at a certain point they’re going to call me they’re going to say ‘Let’s make a deal.’ They’re feeling a lot of pain right now,” the president continued.
The venue for Trump’s remarks was significant because most European nations continue to support the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and continue to do business with Iran.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on America’s allies to cut off financial support for Iran as he headed into his own meeting with European officials in Brussels:
#Iran continues to send weapons across the Middle East, in blatant violation of #UN Security Council resolutions. Iran’s regime wants to start trouble wherever it can. It’s our responsibility to stop it. pic.twitter.com/bJHCCbKb0h
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 12, 2018
We ask our allies & partners to join our economic pressure campaign against #Iran’s regime. We must cut off all funding the regime uses to fund terrorism & proxy wars. There’s no telling when Iran may try to foment terrorism, violence & instability in one of our countries next. pic.twitter.com/XHxd3EPaBP
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 12, 2018
If the pain of renewed sanctions is making Iran respect the U.S. more, their level of respect should be absolutely stratospheric after the next round of sanctions kick in. The State Department issued a warning in June that all nations must halt imports of Iranian oil by November 4 or face sanctions themselves. A State Department official explicitly rejected European attempts to negotiate waivers for their companies, explaining that isolating Iran is a top U.S. strategic priority.
“This may cut Iran’s hard currency earnings from oil exports, and the prospect has triggered a panicked flight of Iranians’ savings from the rial into dollars, weighing on an already ailing local currency, hit by economic woes and financial difficulties at local banks,” Reuters reported on Thursday.
European firms are likewise backing away from Iran even as their governments struggle to keep the JCPOA alive by encouraging them to do business with the theocracy. The Trump administration is also working to quarantine the Iranian economy from the rest of the Middle East, holding talks this week in Saudi Arabia to discuss “maintaining a well-stocked oil market to guard against volatility and helping partners find alternatives to Iran oil.”
The U.S. Treasury Department announced on Thursday that it worked successfully with the United Arab Emirates to disrupt “a currency exchange network that was transferring millions of dollars to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force.”
“This network of currency exchanges abused the UAE financial sector by transferring cash out of Iran and converting it to US dollars for the benefit of the Quds Force, money that they, as we all know, use to fund regional proxy groups to destabilize the region,” explained Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker.
“In order to conceal the Quds Force involvement and these activities from UAE authorities the network forged documents and purposefully disguised its conduct behind seemingly legitimate businesses, hiding its illicit activities behind front and shell companies,” she said.
Mandelker added that the U.S. and UAE have “a number of additional efforts” underway that will send “a very strong unified message that the United States and our Gulf partners are very committed to countering terrorist financing in the region.”
“Every day, it seems there’s a new major company that’s announcing it’s getting out of Iran. The private sector is responding very quickly to the snapback of our sanctions. We expect that to continue,” she said.
The UAE blacklisted nine Iranian individuals and entities last week for supporting terrorism and transferring funds to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The targets of this action were not named but were believed to be the same suspects named as financial supporters of terrorism by the U.S. Treasury Department in May. The suspects were accused of converting hundreds of millions of dollars in Iranian currency to finance the IRGC’s activities. It is not clear if they were part of the same network Treasury and the UAE announced they have disrupted on Thursday.