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US sanctions Iran supreme leader; plans to designate foreign minister

About targeting Ayatollah Khamenei, the US president said, “The Supreme Leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime. He is respected within his country. His office oversees the regime’s most brutal instruments.”

world Updated: Jun 24, 2019 22:33 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Washington
Washington,Donald Trump,Iran
US President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order that would impose fresh sanctions on Iran, amid increased tensions between the long-time foes.(AFP Photo)

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. Plans are afoot to also designate the foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“I think a lot of restraint has been shown by us – a lot of restraint – and that doesn’t mean we’re going to show it in the future,” President Donald Trump said in remarks from the Oval Office before signing the sanction order. “Today’s action follows a series of aggressive behaviors by the Iranian regime in recent weeks (such as the oil tankers) including shooting down of US drones.”

About targeting Ayatollah Khamenei, the US president said, “The Supreme Leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime. He is respected within his country. His office oversees the regime’s most brutal instruments.”

Asked if the new sanctions were specifically in retaliation to the downing of an American drone, the president said “you could probably add that into this”, and added, “This was something that was going to happen anyway.”

The plan to designate Foreign Minister Zarif was announced by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as a news briefing to provide details of the order signed by Trump.

These sanctions come in addition those announced by the US earlier since President Trump pulled the United States out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, also called the Iran nuclear deal) demanding Iran should shut down its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programmes and give up “malign activities” in the region. Earlier sanctions were enforced on some of Iran’s major exports, including crude oil, its chief source of revenue, and its banking and financial sectors.

The United Stats also took the unprecedented step of designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as foreign terrorist organization scaling up it earlier designation, making it the first government agency declared a terrorist entity.

Monday’s sanctions targeting the Supreme Leader i intended to country’s leadership access “to financial resources” and authorized the “targeting of persons appointed to certain official or other positions by the Supreme Leader or the Supreme Leader’s Office”.

There financial assets held in the US or US territories will be frozen and foreign financial institutions doing business with them will be cut off from the US financial system, the treasury department said.

The United States also announced the designation of IRGC commander saying they are “responsible for the Iranian regime’s provocative attacks orchestrated in internationally recognized waters and airspace, as well as Iran’s malign activities in Syria”.

First Published: Jun 24, 2019 21:51 IST