The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on 25 individuals and entities, ratcheting up pressure on Iran in what it said were just “initial steps” and says it will no longer turn a “blind eye” to Iran’s hostile actions.
“The Trump Administration will no longer tolerate Iran’s provocations that threaten our interests,” National Security Advisor Michael Flynn said on Friday.
“The days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over,” Flynn said in a White House statement.
A senior administration official said the latest sanctions were the initial steps in response to Iran’s “provocative behaviour”, suggesting more could follow if Tehran does not curb its ballistic missile program and continues support in regional proxy conflicts.
Iran is playing with fire – they don't appreciate how "kind" President Obama was to them. Not me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2017
The administration was “undertaking a larger strategic review” of how it responds to Iran.
Those affected cannot access the US financial system or deal with US companies and are subject to secondary sanctions, meaning foreign companies and individuals are prohibited from dealing with them or risk being blacklisted by the United States.
The White House said that while the sanctions, the first actions against Iran by the US government since President Donald Trump took office, were a reaction to recent events, they had been under consideration before.
They added that a landmark 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program was not in the best interest of the United States.
Iran denounced the sanctions as illegal and said it would impose legal restrictions on American individuals and entities helping “regional terrorist groups”, state TV quoted a Foreign Ministry statement as saying.
Ahead of the announcement, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted: “We will never initiate war, but we can only rely on our own means of defense”.
Iran unmoved by threats as we derive security from our people. We'll never initiate war, but we can only rely on our own means of defense. pic.twitter.com/TxlSEL8rjj
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) February 3, 2017
The sanctions’ impact will be more symbolic than practical, especially as they do not affect the lifting of broader US and international sanctions that took place under the nuclear deal.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Friday expressed understanding over the sanctions, saying Iran’s missile test last Sunday was a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
However, Gabriel warned against conflating Sunday’s test with the nuclear deal.
The White House said the sanctions made clear the nuclear deal was not in Washington’s best interest.