Days after President Trump’s administration “put Iran on notice,” the Treasury Department of the United States announced a new series of sanctions being levied against the Arab nation for their recent nuclear-capable ballistic missile test.
The sanctions cite twenty-five individuals and companies tied to Iran’s ballistic missile program, but are designed not to interfere with the nuclear deal Iran came to with the United States and a number of other world powers. The Department of the Treasury released a statement indicating that those targeted were “involved in procuring technology and/or materials to support Iran’s ballistic missile program, as well as for acting for or on behalf of, or providing support to, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).”
The release went on to state, “This action reflects the United States’ commitment to enforcing sanctions on Iran with respect to its ballistic missile program and destabilizing activities in the region and is fully consistent with the United States’ commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).”
President Barack Obama also put sanctions in place over portions of the Iranian government due to the same ballistic missile program in January of last year, though President Trump has made it clear that he felt as though Obama was not forceful enough in the way he dealt with what many consider to be Iran’s aggressive behavior.
“The days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over,” Michael Flynn said about the sanctions. Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor, was also the source of Trump’s announcement that Iran was “on notice” after their missile test last weekend.
Sean Spicer, President Trump’s press secretary, said that the Trump administration intends to respond to any continued provocations made by the Iranian military, while suggesting that this recent test speaks to the weaknesses in the nuclear agreement that President Trump has been quite critical of.
“Today’s sanctions really represent a very, very strong stance against the actions that Iran has been taking, and make it very clear that the deal that they struck previously was not in the best interest of this country, and that President Trump is going to do everything he can to make sure that Iran is stayed in check,” Spicer said.
A senior administration official that chose to remain anonymous said that these sanctions were only an “initial response,” possibly indicating that there may be further repercussions for Iran’s missile tests, particularly if they follow-up with additional ones as they have claimed to be planning.
“Iran’s continued support for terrorism and development of its ballistic missile program poses a threat to the region, to our partners worldwide, and to the United States. Today’s action is part of Treasury’s ongoing efforts to counter Iranian malign activity abroad that is outside the scope of the JCPOA,” said Acting OFAC Director John E. Smith, as cited in the Treasure Department press release. “We will continue to actively apply all available tools, including financial sanctions, to address this behavior.”
The twenty-five people and companies listed in the sanctions will have all assets held within the United States immediately frozen, though it is unlikely that there are any to speak of. They also will be barred from doing business with American companies or individuals – a more symbolic punishment than a practical one, as the Iranian ballistic missile program likely does not draw a significant portion of its commercial purchases from the United States. An US Official stated on Friday that some of those cited do have financial “touch points” within the United States, but did not provide any details as to how negatively these sanctions could affect the program financially.
Tehran responded to the new sanctions almost immediately, calling them “illegal and extraterrestrial.” They claim these new sanctions are in violation of the nuclear deal Trump was careful to steer clear of and are “contrary to the obligations of the United States,” according to a statement released by the Foreign Ministry through the official Iranian news agency, IRNA.
“The Islamic Republic will proportionately and reciprocally confront any action that targets the Iranian people’s interests,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry concluded.
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