US Imposes New Sanctions Against Iran

US Expected to Issue New Sanctions Against Iran US Expected to Issue New Sanctions Against Iran

The US administration imposed new sanctions on Iran,  in the first step since the White House put Iran “on notice” after it test-fired a ballistic missile. Up to two dozen Iranian individuals, companies and possibly government agencies are sanctioned as part of the move, officials and others with knowledge of the decision told AP. 

The individuals were not authorized to discuss the unannounced sanctions publicly and insisted on anonymity. The sanctions, coming in the first weeks of US President Donald Trump's term, reflect his administration's desire to take a strong stance toward Iran from the start. Throughout his campaign, Trump accused the Barack Obama administration of being insufficiently tough on Iran and vowed to crack down if elected. The White House and US the State Department declined to comment on Thursday.

It was unclear exactly which entities would be sanctioned. Many sanctions on Iran that had been imposed in response to its nuclear program were lifted in the final years of the Obama administration as part of the nuclear deal the US and world powers brokered. 

Some of those penalties could be reimposed under separate sanction authorities unrelated to nuclear issues.

  Fresh Confrontation 

That prospect raises the possibility of a fresh confrontation between the US and Iran, which has forcefully argued that it considers any new sanctions a violation of the nuclear deal. The US has maintained that it retains the right to sanction Iran for other behavior such as its alleged support for terrorism.

"This is fully consistent with the Obama administration's commitment to Congress that the nuclear deal does not preclude the use of non-nuclear sanctions," said Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which advocates a hard-line US position on Iran.

The impending sanctions come the same week that Trump and his aides issued cryptic warnings about potential retaliation against Tehran for testing a ballistic missile and for supporting Houthi fighters in Yemen. The US accuses Iran of arming and financing the fighters who this week claimed a successful missile strike against a warship belonging to a Saudi-led coalition fighting to reinstall Yemen's ousted government. Iran denies arming the Houthis.

"As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice," said Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

US lawmakers from both parties have encouraged Trump not to let the missile test go unpunished. On Thursday, the top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee joined more than a dozen other lawmakers to urge Trump to act.

"Iranian [officials] must feel sufficient pressure to cease deeply destabilizing activities," the lawmakers wrote. Though Trump has long derided the nuclear deal, under which Iran agreed to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, recently he has avoided repeating his campaign pledge to renegotiate it. Iran has insisted the deal will not be reopened and the other world powers that negotiated it with the US have little appetite for revising it.

The Trump administration, like the Obama administration before it, has stated that Iran's ballistic missile testing does not violate the nuclear deal itself.

Iran has test-launched several ballistic missiles since the conclusion of the nuclear accord on July 14, 2015. It says its missiles are not designed to carry nuclear warheads, so the program does not violate the UNSC resolution.

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