The Trump administration announced Friday that it is imposing new sanctions against 25 individuals and companies it deems to be associated “with Iran’s ballistic missile program”, just days after Iran said it would stop using the U.S. dollar in response to President Trump’s travel ban.
During his campaign, Trump condemned the nuclear deal as a threat to national security. However, his aides offered a muted view after he took office. An official approached reporters claiming that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action would remain in place.
This follows Trump’s position on Thursday declaring he would not rule out military action against Iran. “Nothing is off the table,” he said. While Obama similarly refused to rule out military action, Trump’s rhetoric is far more aggressive towards Iran.
Iran is rapidly taking over more and more of Iraq even after the U.S. has squandered three trillion dollars there. Obvious long ago!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
The White House claims the new sanctions are not in place to violate the Iran nuclear deal, as five other world powers alongside the US signed with Tehran during Obama’s term. This deal allowed for leniency and less sanctions towards Iran in exchange for a curtailment of their nuclear program.
A bipartisan sect of senators had promoted aggressive action against Iran as a response to its missile launches and support for terror organizations.
“Iranian leaders must feel sufficient pressure to cease deeply destabilizing activities, from sponsoring terrorist groups to continued testing of ballistic missiles.”
“Iran’s dangerous and provocative acts are a direct threat to the United States and our allies,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce said in a statement. “I’m glad the administration is taking long-overdue steps to hold the regime accountable.”
The sanctions primarily target Abdollah Asgharzadeh, an Iranian businessman of whom the Treasury Department had accused of acting as a procurement agent for the ballistic missile program. It also targeted individuals in Asgharzadeh’s network.
Other sectors targeted include trading networks tied to Iran’s missile program, and a network allegedly providing cash transfers to Hezbollah, the primary terror group in Lebanon.
The Treasury Department stated it will freeze all US assets for those individuals, and prohibit Americans from doing business with them.
In Tehran on Thursday, the Iranian adviser, Ali Akbar Velayati had condemned Trump’s actions, describing them as “baseless ranting,”, even claiming that Americans were not satisfied with “Trump’s extremism,”, citing Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency.
Velayati attacked Trump with accusations of lacking in sufficient experience, and that Trump should “take lessons from his predecessor”. He added that those who dare to threaten the Muslim world should look at the US failures in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. He stated that all test-fired missiles were defensive, and that Iran shouldn’t need to seek permission to carry out these procedures.
He also said that all test-fired missiles were defensive and that Iran did not need to seek permission to carry out such activities.
This all comes after the governor of the Central Bank of Iran said on Saturday that starting in March, Iran will stop using the US dollar in response to the Trump’s executive order to ban travel from Iran for at least 90 days.
“Iran’s difficulties [in dealing] with the dollar were in place from the time of the primary sanctions and this trend is continuing, but we face no limitations regarding other currencies,” Valiollah Seif said.