The Trump administration slapped 18 Iranian individuals and groups with sanctions on Tuesday for aiding the country’s non-nuclear weapons programs, in a bid to show that President Donald Trump is staying tough on Iran despite his moves to let the nuclear deal stay in place for now.
The latest attempt to clamp down on Iran’s military financing ranged from an Iranian-based company that aided the country’s drone program to a Turkey-based provider of naval equipment and a China-based network that helped secure electronics for Tehran. The sanctions freeze any assets in the U.S. and prevent Americans from doing business with them.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions “send a strong signal that the United States cannot and will not tolerate Iran’s provocative and destabilizing behavior.”
“This administration will continue to aggressively target Iran’s malign activity, including their ongoing state support of terrorism, ballistic-missile program and human-rights abuses,” Mnuchin said.
The announcement came only hours after the Trump administration told Congress for a second time that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal and can keep enjoying sanctions relief. The administration insisted Tehran was breaching “the spirit” of the deal.
President Trump, who lambasted the 2015 pact as a candidate, gave himself more time to decide whether to scuttle it or let it stand. Instead, senior Trump administration officials sought to emphasize their deep concerns about Iran’s non-nuclear misbehavior and vowed that those transgressions won’t go unpunished.
During the campaign, President Trump told the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC): “My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.” And he returned to that theme often during the presidential race, describing the deal as “catastrophic,” among other things.
In a shift from that earlier threat to dismantle the deal, officials said the administration was working with U.S. allies to try to fix the deal’s flaws, including the expiration of some nuclear restrictions after a decade or more. The officials also said the U.S. would slap Tehran with new sanctions penalizing it for developing ballistic missiles and other activity.
Meanwhile, Iranian lawmakers have agreed to fast-track an anti-American bill meant to confront allegedly “adventurist and terrorist” U.S. actions in the region
Iranian state media reported that 211 lawmakers in the 290-seat assembly backed an outline for the legislation at a session Tuesday.
The details of the bill will be worked out in parliament over the next few weeks, after which it will go to the Guardian Council for ratification, like all laws in Iran.
The development came a day after the Trump administration told Congress that Iran would face consequences for breaching “the spirit” of the nuclear deal with world powers.
Congress has been pushing for a new set of sanctions against Iran and its Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force responsible for recent ballistic-missile tests that angered Washington.