World

US Places New Sanctions On Iran

| by Robert Fowler

In response to Iran's latest missile tests, the Trump administration has slapped new sanctions on individuals and companies that had provided the country with ballistics technology. The new sanctions do not reverse any of those lifted by the Iran Deal struck during the Obama administration.

On Feb. 3, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it would sanction 13 individuals and 12 companies related to a recent missile test conducted by Iran. The individuals, whose nationalities range from Iranian to Chinese, will now be blacklisted from doing any business with the U.S., Fox News reports.

On Jan. 28, Iran conducted a missile ballistics test. While conducting ballistics tests are not strictly prohibited under the Iran Deal, Iran had agreed to place an eight-year moratorium on future tests in a separate agreement with the U.S.

"Iran's continued support for terrorism and development of its ballistic missile program poses a threat to the region, to our partners worldwide and to the United States," said acting acting sanctions chief John E. Smith of the Treasury Department.

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The new sanctions follow vows from the Trump administration to take a more aggressive posture against Iran. On Feb. 2, President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Michael Flynn told reporters that the administration was putting Iran "on notice."

Flynn's comments drew concern from foreign policy analysts, who believe Tehran will view his words as an escalation that could lead to military action.

"Whether the Trump administration intended it or not, they have created their own red line," senior fellow Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars told The New York Times. "When Iran tests again, the administration will have no choice but to put up or shut up."

Senior fellow Alex Vatanka of the Middle East Institute noted that Flynn's comments arrive not just after the missile test but also following Trump's executive order placing a travel ban on citizens from several Muslim-majority countries, including Iran.

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"That was not thought through carefully," Vatanka told CNBC. "This moment, with the missile, is actually an opportunity for the Trump administration to come out and say, 'We are not against the people, we're against the policies of the regime that happens to rule Iran today.'"

Vatanka warned that casting the escalating tensions as between the U.S. and all Iranians, the Trump administration runs the risk of alienating the Iranian people.

"The biggest asset for any U.S. president in putting pressure on the Iranian regime is the people of Iran," Vatanka concluded.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee released a statement praising the latest sanctions.

"A coordinated, multi-faceted effort to pushback against a range of illicit Iranian behavior is long overdue," Corker said.

Before the latest sanctions were announced, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took to social media to defend his government's missile test.

"Iran unmoved by threats as we derive security from our people," Zarif tweeted out. "We'll never initiate war, but we can only rely on our own means of defense."

Sources: CNBC, The New York TimesFox News / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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