Iran braces for oil sanctions after currency crash, protests

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran is bracing for the restoration of U.S. sanctions on its vital oil industry next week, as it grapples with an economic crisis that has sparked sporadic protests over rising prices, corruption and unemployment.

The oil sanctions, set to take effect on Monday, will target the country’s largest source of revenue in the most punishing action taken since the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement in May, and will also affect Iranian shipping and financial transactions.

The United States has already restored sanctions on Iran targeting financial transactions involving U.S. dollars, Iran’s automotive sector and the purchase of commercial airplanes and metals, including gold.

The White House insists the sanctions are not aimed at toppling the Islamic Republic, but at forcing Iran to dramatically alter its policies in the region, including its support for militant groups across the Mideast and its development of ballistic missiles. The U.N. nuclear agency says Iran is complying with the nuclear deal.

The renewed sanctions have already taken a heavy toll, with the rial losing half its value since April and the prices of fruit, poultry, eggs and milk skyrocketing. Protests erupted across the country in December, with some demonstrators chanting against the government and clashing with police. Sporadic demonstrations have been held in recent months, including strikes by workers, teachers and truck drivers.

The nuclear accord struck under the Obama administration — and also signed by Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — lifted crippling international sanctions in exchange for Iran curbing its nuclear program.