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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

John Bolton vows to 'squeeze' Iran after UAE visit

Mr Bolton said he believes Iran is already trying to evade sanctions

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, meets John Bolton, United States National Security Adviser, at Al Shati Palace in Abu Dhabi on November 12, 2018. Ministry of Presidential Affairs
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, meets John Bolton, United States National Security Adviser, at Al Shati Palace in Abu Dhabi on November 12, 2018. Ministry of Presidential Affairs

The US intends to step up enforcement of sanctions on Iran, pressuring the nation “until the pips squeak," National Security Adviser John Bolton said from Singapore on Tuesday.

His comments come one week after the US introduced a new round of sanctions on Iran, in an attempt to pressure the Islamic Republic into curbing its nuclear and missile programs as well as its support for proxy forces in the Middle East.

They also came one day after the national security adviser visited the UAE, where he held talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed on Iran, Yemen, Afghanistan and a range of other issues.

The latest US sanctions on Iran, touted as the toughest yet, apply to businesses, banks and oil exporters but they include eight temporary waivers, including for China, India, Japan, South Korea, Italy and Turkey, who are among the biggest clients of Iranian oil.

"We think the government is under real pressure and it's our intention to squeeze them very hard,” Mr Bolton told reporters in Singapore on the sidelines of meetings this week between the ten-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and external partners, including the US and China.

"As the British say, squeeze them until the pips squeak.”

The national security adviser also said the US is going “to significantly increase the enforcement of sanctions,” adding that he believes the Islamic Republic has “already started to try to find ways to evade the sanctions.”

Even before the sanctions went into effect this month, the Trump administration’s announcement in May that it will pull out of the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers triggered a collapse in the value of Iran’s rial currency, which has hit 149,000 to the US dollar on the black market, down from around 43,000 at the start of 2018.

Iran's regional rivals, notably Saudi Arabia and Israel have welcomed the reimposition of sanctions. But the measures have been opposed by other parties to the deal aimed at ending Iran's nuclear drive — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — who have vowed to keep the accord alive.

In its latest assessment, international monitors said Iran continued abiding by nuclear limits in the landmark accord.

European signatories to the deal are attempting to put in place mechanisms to allow trade and investment with Iran to continue, as Iranian officials warn that their country won’t stay bound by an agreement that isn’t delivering benefits.

Bolton suggested the Europeans would fail and rethink their approach.

“I like to compare the attitudes that are changing in Europe to a book written years ago in the U.S. called ‘The Six Stages of Grief’,” Bolton said as he attended a regional summit. “It starts off with denial. Then it ends up at acceptance.”

The International Monetary Fund has forecast that the sanctions will cause Iran's economy to contract 1.5 percent this year and 3.6 percent next year.