WSJ: U.S. to Impose New Sanctions on Iranian Missile Program

Missiles are launched in a drill in Iran, Jan. 16. (Iranian Revolutionary Guard/Sepahnews via AP)

The U.S. could soon begin targeting Iran’s missile and drone programs with a new sanctions campaign in light of the assessment that they pose a more immediate threat than the nuclear- or ballistic-missile programs, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday based on conversations with Western officials.

“It’s part of a comprehensive approach so we’re dealing with all aspects of the Iranian threat,” a senior U.S. official told the Journal.

According to the report, the apparent shift comes in the wake of a sharp rise in the employment of guided missiles and drones against U.S. assets.

“Iran’s drones are becoming an increasing threat to our allies in the region,” another U.S. official told the paper. The officials noted that since the original nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 did not prevent the US from imposing missile- and terror-related sanctions on Tehran, the move should not impact the negotiations in Vienna aimed at restoring or modifying the deal.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday the negotiating process with Iran to revive a 2015 nuclear deal could not go on indefinitely, and that the ball was in Iran’s court.

“We are committed to diplomacy, but this process cannot go on indefinitely. At some point the gains achieved by the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) cannot be fully recovered by a return to the JCPOA if Iran continues the activities that it’s undertaken with regard to its nuclear program,” he said, addressing a news conference in Kuwait.

“We have clearly demonstrated our good faith and desire to return to mutual compliance with the nuclear agreement … The ball remains in Iran’s court and we will see if they’re prepared to make the decisions necessary to come back into compliance.”

Indirect talks between Tehran and Washington to revive the nuclear pact, from which then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States, adjourned on June 20, two days after the hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi was elected president of the Islamic Republic. Raisi takes office on Aug. 5.