Trump pledges to increase sanctions on Iran, but open to UN visit
U.S. President Donald Trump says he has directed the Treasury Department to "substantially increase" sanctions on Iran following the weekend attacks on Saudi oil facilities.
"I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!" Trump wrote in a tweet on Wednesday. It was not immediately clear what specific actions Trump had ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to take.
Trump later added that he would give more details on the sanctions over the next 48 hours.
Washington has ratcheted up its "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran, which it began after pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reinstating hard-hitting oil and financial sanctions. It has also recently announced sanctions against the country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as well as labelled Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organisation.
The Trump administration wants a broader deal that goes beyond nuclear issues and discusses Iran's ballistic missile programme and role in regional conflicts.
Iran: A round trip in pictures
Those travelling to Iran will encounter a history and culture thousands of years old, impressive buildings, breath-taking nature – and overwhelming hospitality. By Felix Schlagwein
Kashan, a friendly small town: the city itself has unique charm with its traditional houses, mosques and bazaars. The surroundings of Kashan also have a lot to offer. The salt lake and the huge dunes in the nearby Maranjab Desert are particularly worth a visit, especially if you get up early to see the sunrise
Isfahan, an art loverʹs paradise: art is omnipresent in Iran. The dome of the Sheikh Lotfollah mosque in Isfahan provides ample proof of the Iranians' love of detail. Even outside the countryʹs religious buildings, you will find colours, pattern and murals everywhere
Abyaneh, the "red" village: the hamlet between Kashan and Isfahan has a population of circa 300. Nevertheless, almost everyone in Iran knows Abyaneh. The village with its red-brown mud houses has been able to preserve its very own culture and language for over 2,000 years and is therefore regarded by many Iranians as a living piece of history. Abyaneh has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Proposal List since 2007
The heat of the Lut Desert: this is probably how many people imagine the surface of the planet Mars. Dasht-e Lut, also called Kalut, is a place without life. NASA measured the hottest ground temperature on earth here in 2005 at 70.7 °C. Anyone visiting eastern Iran really should visit the Lut Desert – even if you donʹt stay for long
Yazd, an oasis in the desert: between Iran's two largest deserts lies one of the country's most beautiful cities. This former caravan staging post is famous for its ancient buildings, which are still preserved today. In the evening you can enjoy the view of the illuminated UNESCO World Heritage city from the roofs of the traditional tea houses
Stunning views in Golestan Province: out of the towns and into nature. In the far northeast of Iran, away from the usual tourist routes, lies Golestan. An absolute must to visit here is the tomb of Khaled Nabi, a forerunner of Mohammed. From here you have a breath-taking view of endless hills stretching in all directions to the horizon
The Iranianʹs favourite city, Shiraz: ask Iranians what their favourite city is and many will answer "Shiraz". In fact, Shiraz has many other sights to offer besides the grave of the most famous Iranian poet Hafez. An absolute eye-catcher is the Nasir-ol-Molk mosque. In the morning hours the light falls through the stained glass windows, gives the house of prayer a magical atmosphere
Persepolis, a testimony to ancient Persia: north of Shiraz lies the palace city of Persepolis, a monument to the former Persian Empire, which stretched from North Africa to India. In 330 BC the city was partially destroyed by Alexander the Great. The desert sand preserved its remains for over 2,000 years. Today Persepolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Iranʹs water gardens: countless gardens in Iran are not only beautiful to look at, they also serve as a retreat for many Iranians. Largely invisible to the strict eyes of police and parents, young unmarried couples can meet here and enjoy a little time together. One particularly stunning example is the Shazdeh Mahan Garden near Kerman in eastern Iran
Iranʹs tradition of hospitality: the incredible friendliness and helpfulness of the Iranians may seem strange to many Western visitors. Wherever you go, you are invited for dinner or tea, there is open and cordial talk and laughter, often with traditional Persian food — such as here with our hosts and their friends in Mashhad
Tensions have mounted for months between Iran and the West after a series of fuel tankers were seized and Iran began rolling back its compliance with the nuclear accord.
The attack, claimed by Yemen's Iran-linked Houthi rebels, struck major Saudi oil installations. Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have blamed the attack on Iran, although Tehran denies the charges. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani earlier on Wednesday said Iran would consider talks with the United States only if Washington shows "goodwill" and by offering sanctions relief.
There has been speculation for weeks that Rouhani could hold talks with Trump on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next week. But after the events at the weekend, it is now unclear whether the Iranian delegation will be granted permission to enter the U.S..
According to the Iranian Fars news agency, Rouhani has not yet received a visa to attend the General Assembly, the UN's biggest annual diplomatic event. Iran's foreign minister on Wednesday confirmed that he and his delegation had not yet received the necessary paperwork.
"The trip to New York is not confirmed yet, because we do not have a U.S. visa," Zarif told Tasnim news agency, adding that the current U.S. administration was untrustworthy.
Rouhani was to fly to New York on Monday, a few days after Zarif.
Iran's national security council is set to decide on Thursday whether the country should cancel its participation in the General Assembly under these circumstances.
The UN is working on resolving the issue, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told reporters in New York on Wednesday.
"We have been in contact with all states in order to solve all outstanding visa problems in relation to delegations," the UN chief said without providing further details.
Trump on Wednesday said he supports allowing the Iranian delegation to visit the U.S. for next week's event. "I would let them come," the president told reporters travelling with him in San Diego, according to a White House pool report. (dpa)