‘Sanctions are coming’: Trump uses Game of Thrones MEME to announce he will reinstate every financial penalty on Iran that Obama lifted – and show’s makers protest before the mullahs do
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions are ‘aimed at fundamentally altering the behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran’
- Restored sanctions will take effect Monday and cover Iran’s shipping, financial and energy sectors
- U.S. will resume penalizing most countries that do business with Iran and its largest state-owned enterprises
- Eight countries including U.S. allies like Italy, India, Japan and South Korea will get temporary waivers to keep buying Iranian oil for a limited period of time
President Donald Trump on Friday announced the reimposition of all U.S. sanctions on Iran that the Obama administration lifted under the 2015 nuclear deal – and delivered the message by tweeting a ‘Game of Thrones’ meme.
Trump tweeted: ‘Sanctions are coming November 5’ imposed on a stylized picture of him, with the words in the same typeface the HBO series uses in its promotional materials and on-screen titles.
HBO hit back before the mullahs did, tweeting a reference to the fictional language Dothraki which features in the show saying: ‘How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?’
The sanctions will take effect Monday and cover Iran’s shipping, financial and energy sectors. It’s the second batch of penalties that the administration has reimposed since Trump withdrew from the landmark deal in May.
With limited exceptions, the sanctions will penalize countries that don’t stop importing Iranian oil and foreign companies that do business with blacklisted Iranian entities, including Iran’s central bank, a number of private financial institutions and state-run port and shipping companies.
Foreign policy by meme: Trump used a ‘Game of Thrones’-inspired Tweet to announce his crackdown on Iran
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani will be allowed to sell petroleum products to a list of eight countries for a short while but Washington will sanction all other commerce with his rogue regime
Meme time: ‘Game of Thrones’ promos like this one inspired Trump’s tweet
Clapback: HBO, which makes Games of Thrones, hit back with a quip about the fictional language spoken in the show by the Dothraki people
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions are ‘aimed at fundamentally altering the behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran.’ He has released a list of 12 demands that Iran must meet if it wants the sanctions lifted.
They include ending support for terrorism, ending military engagement in Syria and completely halting its nuclear and ballistic missile development.
‘Maximum pressure means maximum pressure,’ he said.
Pompeo said eight nations, which other officials identified as U.S. allies such as Italy, India, Japan and South Korea, will receive temporary waivers allowing them to continue to import Iranian petroleum products for a limited period as long as they end such imports entirely.
He said those countries had made efforts to eliminate their imports but could not complete the task by Monday’s deadline.
Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said 700 more Iranian companies and people would be added to the sanctions lists under the reimposed sanctions.
Iran hard-liners in Congress and elsewhere probably will be disappointed in the sanctions because they were pushing for no oil import waivers as well as the complete disconnection of Iran from the main international financial messaging network known as SWIFT.
Mnuchin defended the move to allow some Iranian banks to remain connected to SWIFT, saying that the Belgium-based firm had been warned that it will face penalties if sanctioned institutions are permitted to use it.
Pompeo and Mnuchin both said the sanctions will have exceptions for humanitarian purchases.
But the European Union, backed by France, Germany and Britain, said they ‘deeply regret’ the reimposition.
In a joint statement Friday, they said they aim to protect European firms ‘engaged in legitimate business with Iran.’
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They added that their ‘collective resolve to complete this work is unwavering.’
Their statement called the 2015 nuclear deal ‘crucial for the security of Europe, the region, and the entire world’ and said it ‘is working and delivering on its goal.’
Iran is grappling with an economic crisis that has sparked sporadic protests over rising prices, corruption and unemployment. The oil sanctions will target the country’s largest source of revenue
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions are ‘aimed at fundamentally altering the behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran’
WHAT THE IRAN SANCTIONS ARE
- Sanctions on state run shipping firms and ports to make oil exports impossible
- Relief in the form of six-month waivers for eight countries which are currently heavy importers on the basis that they cut imports
- Iranian central bank and named private institutions which include most of the country’s banks are sanctioned
- Global financial network SWIFT — which enables secure bank-to-bank communications and transactions — will also be subject to sanctions if it provides services to financial institutions on the US blacklist
- 700 named officials are sanctioned meaning anyone doing business with them will be subject to legal action
With limited exceptions, the reimposed U.S. sanctions will hit Iran as well as countries that do not stop importing Iranian oil and foreign firms that do business with blacklisted Iranian entities, including its central bank, a number of private financial institutions, and state-run port and shipping firms, as well as hundreds of individual Iranian officials.
‘Our ultimate aim is to compel Iran to permanently abandon its well-documented outlaw activities and behave as a normal country,’ Pompeo told reporters in a conference call with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. ‘Maximum pressure means maximum pressure.’
Pompeo said eight nations will receive temporary waivers allowing them to continue to import Iranian petroleum products for a limited period as they move to end such imports entirely. He said those countries, which other officials said would include U.S. allies such as Turkey, Italy, India, Japan and South Korea, had made efforts to eliminate their imports but could not complete the task by Monday.
The waivers, expected to be announced Monday, will be valid for six months, during which time the importing country can buy Iranian oil but must deposit Iran’s revenue in an escrow account. Iran can spend the money but only on a narrow range of humanitarian items. Pompeo said two of the eight countries would wind down imports to zero within weeks.
Mnuchin said 700 more Iranian companies and people would be added to the sanctions rolls. Those, he said, would include more than 300 that had not been included under previous sanctions.
‘We are sending a very clear message with our maximum pressure campaign: that the U.S. intends to aggressively enforce our sanctions,’ he said.
Israel, which considers Iran an existential threat and opposed the deal from the beginning, welcomed Friday’s announcement.
‘Thank you, Mr. President, for restoring sanctions against an Iranian regime that vows and works to destroy the Jewish state,’ Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said in a tweet.
Some Iran hawks in Congress and elsewhere, however, were disappointed in the sanctions as they had been pushing for no oil import waivers as well as the complete disconnection of Iran from the main international financial messaging network known as SWIFT.
One group that has been highly critical of the deal welcomed the new sanctions but said there should be no exceptions.
‘We encourage the Trump administration to fulfill the promise of a maximum pressure campaign – no exceptions – until Iran permanently and verifiably changes its behavior,’ United Against a Nuclear Iran said in a statement.
‘Oil and gas firms, including those from friendly countries like India, South Korea and Japan, should not be granted sanctions waivers. Similarly, financial entities – including SWIFT – must sever ties with Iranian banks and financial institutions.’
Mnuchin defended the decision to allow some Iranian banks to remain connected to SWIFT, saying that the Belgium-based firm had been warned that it will face penalties if sanctioned institutions are permitted to use it. And, he said that U.S. regulators would be watching closely Iranian transactions that use SWIFT to ensure any that run afoul of U.S. sanctions would be punished.
Pompeo, meanwhile, defended the oil waivers, saying U.S. efforts to cut Iran’s petroleum revenue had already been successful. He noted that since May, when the U.S. began to press countries to stop buying Iranian oil, Iran’s exports had dropped by more than 1 million barrels per day.
Pompeo and Mnuchin both said the sanctions will have exceptions for humanitarian purchases, although Iran deal supporters said the people of Iran would suffer because companies will be reluctant to do any business in the country for fear of being excluded from the U.S. financial system.
They point to the fact that the Iranian economy is already reeling from the earlier sanctions with the currency losing half its value since April and the prices of fruit, poultry, eggs and milk skyrocketing.
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