United States sanctions reimposed on Iran have 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.
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 U.S. 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,” Bolton said. “But Iranian activity in the region has continued to be belligerent: what they are doing in Iraq, what they are doing in Syria, what they are doing with Hezbollah in Lebanon, what they are doing in Yemen, what they have threatened to do in the Strait of Hormuz.”
The Strait is a strategic waterway for oil shipments which Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have threatened to block in response to Trump administration calls to ban all Iranian oil exports.