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The threats resume

The threats resume

Having, for all practical purposes, divided his country, Donald Trump has been on a mission to divide the world on his terms. He has started a full-scale trade war and tossed diplomacy out without realising the consequences. Indeed, going by the manner in which he has been disowning the treaties signed by the US just before he had taken over, he seems to be on a mission. The Iran treaty, for example. Now, the US has warned Britain to side with Trump on Iran. The US ambassador to the UK has called on Britain to side with Trump on Iran or risk "serious trade consequences" for UK businesses. In a pointed intervention into an issue that has strained ties between the two allies, Woody Johnson said the UK should embrace Trump's hard-hitting sanctions on Iran, reimposed last week, and break with its European partners who are seeking to preserve the deal to curtail Iran's nuclear programme. In a joint statement last week, Britain, France and Germany said the Iran deal was "working and delivering on its goal" and said they "deeply regret" the reimposition of US sanctions. Europe has attempted to counteract the effects of the sanctions by launching an updated version of its "Blocking Statue," a measure intended to protect EU companies doing business in Iran from being hit by punitive US measures. Johnson disregarded the move, urging British businesses directly to cut ties with Iran. Johnson's comments come soon after the Trump administration reimposed a raft of sanctions on Iran that affect, among other things, the purchase or acquisition of US dollars by the Iranian government, the country's auto industry and trade in gold or precious metals. Another phase of US sanctions will be reimposed in November to target Iran's crucial oil industry. Shortly after the sanctions snapped back, Trump warned in a tweet that countries doing business with Iran would "NOT be doing business with the United States." Joe Kaeser, the chief executive of German industrial conglomerate Siemens, summed up the harsh realities of US economic influence over European business when he said that the company would stop all new deals in Iran, following Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal. "There is a primacy of the (US) political system. If that primacy is 'This is what you are going to do,' then that is exactly what we are going to do. We are a global company. We have interest and values and we have to balance both," said Kaeser. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has described the sanctions as "psychological warfare." But Rouhani also said Iran was willing to hold talks with the US to resolve the matter, something Trump's national security adviser John Bolton dismissed as possible "propaganda."

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