Trump tightens sanctions on Iran

Andrew Cummings
June 24, 2019

The United States on Monday announced new sanctions against Iran, this time targeting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, denying him, his office and those close to him key financial instruments, "locking billions dollars more in sanctions", in retaliation for the downing of American drones. Trump seeks to drive Iranian oil exports to zero to force Tehran to abandon support for militant groups in the Middle East and renegotiate the 2015 nuclear accord the US quit a year ago.

In the early hours of June 20, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force shot down a US unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that intruded into the airspace of Iran.

"These attacks threaten the worldwide waterways that we all rely on for shipping", the four countries said in a statement issued by the State Department, and urged "diplomatic solutions to de-escalate tensions".

Trump said the sanctions are a "strong and proportionate response to Iran's increasingly provocative actions".

The announcement comes less than one week after Iran abruptly shot-down a U.S. drone plan operating in the region.

On Saturday, however, he said that military action was "always on the table". "When the Iranian regime decides to forgo violence and meet our diplomacy with diplomacy, it knows how to reach us", Pompeo said.

He said that the new action was in response to Iranian escalations in the Gulf, including the downing of a United States drone last Thursday.

Eight commanders from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have also been blacklisted. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said shortly before Trump signed his order.

The Trump administration hopes its "maximum pressure" campaign will force Iran to renegotiate a nuclear deal that also constrains its activities in the region. I think a lot of restraint has been shown by us, a lot of restraint.

Amid a flurry of diplomatic activity, the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates urged "diplomatic solutions" in the standoff, which is playing out in a region crucial to the global economy's oil supplies.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the Middle East today meeting with leaders from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

A picture taken during a guided tour by the U.S. Navy shows the Japanese oil tanker Kokuka Courageous off the U.A.E. port of Fujairah on June 19.

On Monday, the United States said it was building a coalition with allies to protect Gulf shipping lanes.

Iran denies any role in the tanker attacks. "The U.S. request for Iran is very simple - No Nuclear Weapons and No Further Sponsoring of Terror!" Iranian authorities, however, say they received no such message.

Pompeo noted that "the only path forward" is for Iran "to negotiate a comprehensive deal that addresses the full range of its destabilizing behaviors".

Other reports by iNewsToday