Iranians rally to mark anniversary of US Embassy takeover

A gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields is seen alongside an Iranian flag in the Gulf

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The Donald Trump administration's decision to issue waivers also marked a significant reduction from the Barack Obama administration, which issued such exemptions in 2012 to 20 countries over 3 years during last sanctions.

Mr Rouhani said: "Today, Iran is able to sell its oil and it will sell".

India, the world's third-biggest oil consumer, meets more than 80 per cent of its oil needs through imports.

The European Union is not one of the recipients, according to Pompeo who said those who receive waivers "have made important moves towards getting to zero crude oil importation".

Mr Rouhani said four countries had approached him during his visit to NY for the UN General Assembly in September, offering to mediate with the U.S., but he turned them down.

Mr Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear pact after branding it the worst deal in American history.

"The whole world understands that these sanctions are real", Pompeo said.

When asked whether the administration's efforts would push Iran closer to a nuclear bomb, he replied: "We are confident that will not happen".

The United States re-imposed and strengthened economic sanctions on Iran's oil, banking and transportation sectors on Monday after the Trump administration withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and vowed further action to pressure Tehran.

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Israel has been particularly concerned with Iran's alleged increasing military presence in Syria, with high-level officials alarmed over Tehran's growing influence in the region. "Secretary Pompeo has been very clear that we have an ear open to what is possible".

"The president's policy of maximum pressure will be fully in place come tomorrow", Pompeo said during the interview.

"But an alternative sourcing strategy needs to be worked out soon as the USA relaxation would be temporary and Washington would expect India to keep cutting imports from Iran to reach zero level", said an energy sector expert. A defiant Khamenei dismissed the renewed USA sanctions - including an oil embargo - that take effect on Monday. "We have the knowledge and the capability to manage the country's economic affairs", Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bahram Qasemi told state TV on Friday.

"Never threaten Iran", he warned US President Donald Trump, describing him as America´s "strange president".

Hours before the fresh sanctions went ahead, thousands of people in Iran marked the anniversary of the 1979 hostage-taking at the U.S. embassy by carrying placards mocking Trump and burning American flags and fake dollars. "We have also advised SWIFT that it must disconnect any Iranian financial institution that we designate as soon as technologically feasible to avoid sanctions exposure".

"Our youth, across the country, support independence". On Friday, the U.S. said it would add 700 individuals and entities to its Iran blacklist and push the SWIFT global banking network to cut off Tehran as Washington applies "maximum pressure" to cripple the country's economy.

Rouhani then noted another victory for Iran, in which the United States was forced to agree to let eight countries, including Japan, India and South Korea, keep buying Iranian oil after the re-imposition of sanctions on November 5, even though Trump had previously vowed to cut Iran's oil sales to zero.

"Our ultimate aim is to compel Iran to permanently abandon its well-documented outlaw activities and behave like a normal country".

"This action is aimed at cutting off Iranian banks that facilitate Iran's domestic repression and foreign adventurism from the global financial system, and will highlight for the world the true nature of the regime's abuse of its domestic banking system", Sigal Mandelker, Treasury's counter-terrorism chief, said in a statement.

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