Once-eased United States economic sanctions against Iran back in effect

Hassan Rouhani and Donald Trump

European firms must seek a legal exemption for withdrawing from Iran due to USA sanctions and those failing to do so could be penalized by their governments.

European governments are infuriated by Trump's strategy, which leaves their businesses in Iran faced with the threat of USA legal penalties.

Iranian officials in general are downplaying the impact of those sanctions, with President Rouhani labeling them "psychological warfare", and saying that their goal is to cause chaos across the region.

DONALD Trump has slapped Iran with sanctions three years after Barack Obama lifted them.

It called on the global community "not to allow such significant achievements in multilateral diplomacy to be sacrificed in the name of American aspirations to settle political scores with Iran".

Trump scrapped that deal in May, putting sanctions back into effect as of early Tuesday morning.

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Saudi women's rights activists, including those who have been imprisoned for defying the ban, have celebrated the decision. Human Rights Watch has called the arrests "an unrelenting crackdown on the women's rights movement".

The US sanctions not only target American companies with operations in Iran, such as GE and Honeywell, but foreign companies with operations in both Iran and the US, such as French oil giant Total, could also be held liable if they choose to stay in Iran. Iran's currency has lost about half its value since Trump announced the USA would withdraw from the nuclear pact.

Zarif suggested it was hard to imagine negotiating with Trump after he had torn up the 2015 nuclear deal, on which Iran and world powers had spent the "longest hours in negotiating history".

European enterprises can either comply with USA sanctions and face consequences in Europe for violating the "blocking statute" or keep doing business in Iran and face United States sanctions. The country's rial currency has tanked, and the downturn has sparked protests across the nation.

The renewed sanctions are part of the broader strategy under Trump aimed at cutting off the Iranian leadership's access to resources.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a firm foe of the Iranian government, said the sanctions symbolize "the determination to block Iran's regional aggression as well as its continuous plans to arm itself with nuclear weapons".

The European Union has also spoken out against the sanctions, vowing to protect firms doing "legitimate business".

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US sanctions on oil sales snap back are scheduled to snap back in early November. "I can't afford to buy food, pay the rent." said a construction worker on the streets of the capital.

Furthermore, the European Union blocking statute does not recognise any court ruling enforcing U.S. sanctions.

The EU said it is simultaneously implementing a "blocking statute" as the new sanctions take effect, stopping European companies from complying with the US sanctions unless they have permission to do so.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters the global reaction to Trump's move showed that the United States was diplomatically "isolated", but acknowledged the sanctions "may cause some disruption".

He called on the countries of Europe to join the USA, saying, "The time has come to stop talking; the time has come to do".

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