Germany warns US Iran sanctions could cause Middle East 'chaos'

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif right greets North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho in Tehran on Tuesday

At current market rates, the imports are worth about $15bn.

In a blistering criticism of the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Quds Force, the four-star USA general in charge of United States military of operations in the Middle East said Qasem Soleimani is behind much of Iran's destabilizing activities in the region.

Thousands of Iranians have rallied in recent days to protest mounting unemployment and a dramatic drop in the currency, blaming the regime-not the United States-for months of economic turmoil, a Politico reporter said Wednesday. Companies doing business with Iran will be barred from the United States, President Donald Trump said on Tuesday.

He is seeking to compel Iran to agree to a new nuclear accord, but the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China have pledged to abide by the deal they negotiated along with the U.S. in 2015, and continue trading with Iran.

Ri was present alongside a high-level Iranian delegation at a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Baku, Azerbaijan in April, according to Pyongyang's official KCNA news agency.

"China has consistently opposed unilateral sanctions and long-armed jurisdiction", the Chinese foreign ministry said in a faxed statement to Reuters, responding to questions on the new USA sanctions and Trump's threats on firms doing business with Iran.

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"We want to see a much broader retreat by Iran from their support for global terrorism, their belligerent military activity in the Middle East and their ballistic missile, nuclear-related programs", National Security Advisor John Bolton told Fox News.

European countries, hoping to persuade Tehran to continue to respect the deal, have promised to try to lessen the blow of sanctions and to urge their firms not to pull out. "I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less".

Few American companies do much business in Iran so the impact of sanctions mainly stems from Washington's ability to block European and Asian firms from trading there.

"America has zigzagged constantly, so now no one trusts them", he said.

"Prices are rising again, but the reason is government corruption, not United States sanctions", said Ali, a 35-year-old decorator in Tehran.

There have been rumours that Trump and Rouhani could meet in NY in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly - though Rouhani reportedly rejected USA overtures for a meeting at last year's event. Petroleum-related transactions and transactions by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran will also be affected. Ali Vaez, Iran project director for the International Crisis Group, told AFP that the sanctions would inflict "significant harm" on the Iranian economy.

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