The US has increased its pressure on Iran through new sanctions, while Iran threatens countermeasures.
The Trump administration placed new sanctions on Iran on Tuesday, in an effort to put additional pressure on Tehran and its developing missile and weapons programs, while seeking to keep in place the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and several world powers.
“The United States remains deeply concerned about Iran’s malign activities across the Middle East which undermine regional stability, security, and prosperity,” the State Department said in a statement.
“Iran continues to support terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad that threaten Israel and stability in the Middle East,” the State Department charged.
Iran’s activities “undercut whatever ‘positive contributions’ to regional and international peace and security were intended to emerge” from the nuclear agreement, the State Department added.
Washington said it was targeting 18 entities and people supporting “Iran’s ballistic missile program and … Iran’s military procurement or Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as an Iran-based transnational criminal organization and associated persons.”
In recent years, Iran has made significant headway in manufacturing a broad range of military equipment, including long range missiles that can carry a nuclear payload.
Tehran has repeatedly claimed that its military capacity is “defensive in nature” and poses no threat to other countries. However, Israel believes Iran’s weapons are an existential threat.
US Trying to Poison International Atmosphere?
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded by accusing the Trump administration of trying to “poison the international atmosphere” with new sanctions.
Zarif said Tuesday “the international community has read this very loud and clear and continue to deal with Iran without much attention to this theater.”
While President Donald Trump’s administration indicated Iran’s compliance, it also said Tehran would face consequences for its regional belligerence. It followed up the announcement with new, non-nuclear sanctions on Iranians on Tuesday.
Zarif called the new sanctions illegal and told several reporters at United Nations headquarters that “this unfortunately has become a bad habit for this administration.”
He stressed that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has already verified that Iran has lived up to its nuclear commitments.
Iran also threatened to “reciprocate the move by imposing sanctions on a number of American natural and legal persons who have taken steps against the Iranian people and other Muslim nations in the region,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.
The Trump administration on Monday said Iran remains in compliance with the nuclear agreement, despite Trump calling the pact “the worst deal ever” during last year’s election campaign and promising to dismantle the accord.
By: World Israel News Staff and agencies