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Oil markets have been anticipating the sanctions for months.

Trump's moves target Iran's main source of revenue - its oil exports - as well as its financial sector, essentially making 50 Iranian banks and their subsidiaries off limits to foreign banks on pain of losing access to the US financial system. Gholamali Khoshroo called on Antonio Gooteresh to uphold the rule of law.

In accordance with its agreement with the USA, the government did not reveal how frequently the waivers will need to be renewed or by how much buyers would need to cut back on oil imports from Iran to avoid penalties.

The sanctions end all the economic benefits America granted Tehran for its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, though Iran for now continues to abide by the accord that saw it limit its enrichment of uranium.

President Donald Trump had in May pulled the USA out of the landmark Iran nuclear deal, an Obama-era accord which he has repeatedly criticised as "disastrous".

The US on Monday imposed "the toughest ever" sanctions on a defiant Iran aimed at altering the Iranian regime's "behaviour".

South Korea, one of Asia's biggest buyers of Iranian oil, had asked Washington for an exemption, given that petrochemicals are key to its economy and the sanctions would exact a toll on the country's businesses. "I don't want to lift oil prices".

Iranian President Hassan Rohani said in speech broadcast on state TV on Monday that Iran would break the sanctions and continue to sell its oil.

Democratic Senator Tom Udall, who is also a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, "Led by people like John Bolton, who believe that we should bomb Iran, I fear the Trump administration is marching toward another catastrophic war in the Middle East".

"These sanctions hit at the core areas of Iran's economy", he told reporters Friday.

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The new sanctions were lifted under the Obama administration's 2015 nuclear deal, which was also signed by the U.K., France, Germany, China, and Russian Federation.

It also appeared that the USA for the first time was directly sanctioning the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the government agency that oversees Iran's nuclear program.

Washington gave 180-day exemptions to eight importers - China, India, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey.

Monday's actions designate 50 Iranian banks and their subsidiaries, more than 200 individuals and vessels in Iran's energy and shipping sector and an Iranian airline and its 65 aircraft. "This is part of the Trump team's trying to balance its maximum pressure campaign against Iran versus its concerns over where the global prices of oil might go and how that could negatively impact everyone including America".

The waivers will allow the countries to continue reducing their purchases over the coming weeks and months.

China is the single-largest importer of Iranian oil and forcing it to look elsewhere to fuel its dynamic economy would likely have rocked the market.

Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnasser Hemmati said Iranian banks should use their previous experience dealing with sanctions to help the country's economic situation.

More than 20 other countries have already canceled their oil business with Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

In addition to the oil exemptions, Pompeo said limited waivers had been issued to allow European and other firms to continue conversion work on three of Iran's nuclear facilities.


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