U.S. Hits Iran With Sanctions, Drawing Threat from Tehran

from The Wall Street Journal,

Trump administration blacklists more than two dozen firms and individuals, prompting Iranian threat of reciprocal measures.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned more than two dozen Iranian, Chinese, and Emirati businesses and individuals for their alleged role in supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program, marking an early salvo in the Trump administration’s promised campaign to get tough with Tehran. Treasury Department officials also named officers and business executives tied to Iran’s elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, for their suspected role in aiding the Lebanese militia, Hezbollah, and Tehran’s defense industries.

Iran responded by condemning the U.S. move on Friday, and said it would retaliate against American individuals and companies, indicating it would go further than previous Iranian responses by directly targeting American interests. “The Islamic Republic will proportionately and reciprocally confront any action that targets the Iranian people’s interests,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry said. It said it would reveal the list at a later time and that those blacklisted had played a role in aiding terror groups. Earlier Friday, President Donald Trump tweeted that Iran was “playing with fire” and “they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!” Less than an hour later, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif responded with his own tweet, saying that Iran was “unmoved by threats.” The latest moves are part of a string of escalations by the U.S. and Iran in recent days. After Mr. Trump’s executive order temporarily barring Iranians and nationals of six other countries from entering the U.S., Iran stopped issuing visas to Americans.

Iran’s test launch of a ballistic missile fed the fire. Officials in Mr. Trump’s administration weighed a range of responses, adding that no option—including military action—had been taken off the table. Tehran said the missile tests don’t violate the nuclear deal or United Nations Security Council resolutions. “Iran’s continued support for terrorism and development of its ballistic missile program poses a threat to the region, to our partners world-wide and to the United States,” said John Smith, the acting director of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. “We will continue to actively apply all available tools, including financial sanctions, to address this behavior.”

U.S. officials said the U.S. sanctions, the first issued against Iran in more than a year, didn’t violate the landmark nuclear agreement Tehran reached with the U.S. and other world powers in 2015. U.S. officials said the deal allows Washington to blacklist Iranian companies and personnel involved in missile development and terrorism; Iranian officials have said that any new sanctions on Iran by the U.S. would constitute a breach of the nuclear deal. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel of Germany—one of the six nations that negotiated the deal with Iran—said he understood the U.S. decision to impose new sanctions and that the move should have no impact on the nuclear pact.

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