The United States on Friday slapped more than two dozen Iranian entities with sanctions, two days after the Islamic republic dismissed President Donald Trump’s warnings over its latest missile test as baseless and provocative.
The announcement also comes a day after Trump put Iran ‘on notice’ for its alleged destabilising behaviour and carrying out ballistic missile test in violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls on Tehran not to test missiles capable of delivering a nuclear weapon.
The ballistic missile launch was the first by Iran since Trump became President.
According to reports, Iran's missile test occurred at a well-known site outside Semnan, about 225 km east of Tehran. The Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile flew 600 miles before exploding.
In a statement, the Treasury Department said the multiple entities and individuals slapped with sanctions were involved in procuring technology and materials to support Iran’s ballistic missile programme, as well as for acting for or on behalf of, or providing support to, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF).
“This action reflects the United States’ commitment to enforcing sanctions on Iran with respect to its ballistic missile program and destabilising activities in the region and is fully consistent with the United States' commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” the Treasury said.
“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 John E Smith, Acting Director at the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
“Today’s action is part of Treasury’s ongoing efforts to counter Iranian malign activity abroad that is outside the scope of the JCPOA,” he added.
The Treasury said OFAC designated several networks and supporters of Iran’s ballistic missile procurement, including a critical Iranian procurement agent and eight individuals and entities in his Iran- and China-based network, an Iranian procurement company and its Gulf-based network, and five individuals and entities that are part of an Iran-based procurement network connected to Mabrooka Trading, which was designated on January 17 last year.
It also designated a key IRGC-QF-run support network working with Hizballah, including IRGC-QF official Hasan Deghan Ebrahimi, his associates Muhammad Abd-al-Amir Farhat and Yahya al-Hajj, and several affiliated companies in Lebanon.
Iran has previously warned that new US sanctions could constitute a violation of the nuclear deal, setting up a scenario in which the agreement could unravel -- something that hardliners in both countries would welcome.
The row comes against a backdrop of already strained ties between Washington and Tehran over Trump’s travel ban on citizens from Iran and six other Muslim-majority countries.
Senator Bob Corker, Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, welcomed the sanctions. “This announcement makes clear that it is a new day in US-Iran relations and that we will no longer tolerate Iran’s destabilising behaviour,” he said.
“A coordinated, multi-faceted effort to pushback against a range of illicit Iranian behaviour is long overdue, and after speaking with General Flynn this morning, I am very encouraged by the professionalism with which the administration has orchestrated these actions and how they have communicated their intentions to the international community,” Corker said.
Paul Ryan, Speaker of House of Representatives, said: “Iran’s latest ballistic missile test was a flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions. This swift and decisive response proves that our new administration is serious about holding the Iranian regime accountable for its illicit behavior.”
Alleging that Iran’s dangerous and provocative acts are a direct threat to the US and its allies, Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, said he is glad the administration is taking long-overdue steps to hold the regime accountable.
“I look forward to working with the administration to build on these designations, push back against Iran’s destructive policies, and promote stability in the Middle East,” Royce said.
IMAGE: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters