ANKARA

Iran’s top diplomat on Thursday condemned a US decision to sanction the country’s entire financial sector and 18 banks.

“Amid Covid19 pandemic, U.S. regime wants to blow up our remaining channels to pay for food & medicine,” Javad Zarif said on Twitter.

Striking a defiant tone amid the latest batch of penalties, Zarif vowed that country would not cede to US demands.

“Iranians WILL survive this latest of cruelties. But conspiring to starve a population is a crime against humanity. Culprits & enablers—who block our money—WILL face justice,” Zarif stressed.

The US sanctioned 18 Iranian banks and Iran’s wider financial sector Thursday in a move European governments warned could have dire humanitarian consequences for the country.

The designation of Iran’s financial system comes under an executive order US President Donald Trump issued in January that allows Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to impose sanctions on key sectors of the Iranian economy.

The Treasury Department identified blacklisted lenders including Amin Investment Bank, Bank Keshavarzi Iran, Bank Maskan, Bank Refah Kargaran, Bank-e Shahr, Eghtesad Novin Bank, Gharzolhasaneh Resalat Bank, Hekmat Iranian Bank, Iran Zamin Bank, Karafarin Bank, Khavarmianeh Bank, Mehr Iran Credit Union Bank, Pasargad Bank, Saman Bank, Sarmayeh Bank, Tosee Taavon Bank and Tourism Bank.

Hekmat Iranian Bank was also sanctioned under a 2005 executive order.

Multiple reports cited anonymous European officials who warned prior to the announcement that the move would make it virtually impossible for Iran to pay for imported humanitarian goods and would expose European financial institutions to potential secondary sanctions.

Individuals and entities that conduct business with the banks are being given a “45-day wind-down period” before they face the possibility of being hit with follow-on US sanctions.

Trump and his administration have been seeking to kill a 2015 nuclear deal the US and other world powers struck with Iran, and has been ramping up pressure on Tehran in what has been called a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at bringing Tehran back to the negotiating table.

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