The US has imposed new sanctions on companies and individuals that it says provide material support to Iran’s military, as well as on organizations involved in the country’s ballistic missile program. The restrictions are not related to Iran’s nuclear program.
The US Department of the Treasury “designated 16 entities and individuals for engaging in support of illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity,” the department announced on Tuesday.
The announcement comes the day after the Trump administration certified that Tehran is in compliance with the terms of the landmark 2015 nuclear agreement designed to ensure Iran doesn’t make nuclear weapons.
The new sanctions “target procurement of advanced military hardware, such as fast attack boats and unmanned aerial vehicles, and send a strong signal that the United States cannot and will not tolerate Iran’s provocative and destabilizing behavior,” said US Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a statement.
“We will continue to target the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps] and pressure Iran to cease its ballistic missile program and malign activities in the region,” he added
President Donald Trump has accused Iran of being a “state sponsor of terrorism,” but his administration has stopped short of designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization, although it reportedly considered doing so.
“Counting the Revolutionary Guard the same as terrorist groups and applying similar sanctions to the Revolutionary Guard is a big risk for America and its bases and forces deployed in the region,” Iran’s armed forces chief of staff, Mohammad Baqeri, said on Monday, according to Sepah News, an official news site of the Guard.
Baqeri did not elaborate on any potential consequences that the US could face.
He also said that Iran’s ballistic missile program is purely defensive and entirely non-negotiable.
Trump put Tehran “on notice” in February after it conducted a missile test.
Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile.Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
In June, the US Senate voted to impose additional sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program. However, the same bill would also cement sanctions on Russia, as it was written to include both countries. To become law, the legislation would also require the House of Representatives to pass it and the president to sign it.
The administration has opposed the initiative, arguing it would undermine the authority of the executive branch to determine sanctions.
Last Friday, the US government lifted nuclear-related sanctions on Iran under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the United States under the Obama administration together with Russia, France, Germany, China, the United Kingdom and the European Union negotiated with Iran in 2015.
Even though Trump called it the “worst deal ever negotiated,” his administration has adhered to it.
Under the terms of the deal, in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions Iran agreed to reduce the number of its uranium enrichment centrifuges by two-thirds, cap its enrichment below the level needed for weapons-grade material, reduce its enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent from around 10,000kg for 15 years, and allow international inspections.