President Trump punished Iran by slapping them with “hard-hitting” financial sanctions and calling out Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his associates. “Today’s action follows a series of aggressive behaviors by the Iranian regime in recent weeks including shooting down a U.S. drone,” the president said in the Oval Office, calling Khamenei “responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime.”
Trump said the sanctions “will deny the supreme leader and the supreme leader’s office and those closely affiliated with him and the office access to key financial resources and support.” Speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions “lock up literally billions of dollars more of assets.”
“Along with that action today, we are also announcing specific actions targeting those responsible for recent activities,” Mnuchin said, adding that the president has instructed him to sanction Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif “later this week.” The Treasury Department, in a news release, said “any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant financial transaction for entities designated under this Executive Order could be cut off from the U.S. financial system.”
The sanctions come after a confirmed U.S. military cyberattack against Iran in direct retaliation for their downing of an American Drone in international air space. The cyberattack was intended to be launched jointly with airstrikes until the President called off the airstrikes, deciding rather to spare the lives of roughly 150 people which would have been casualties of the attack. “I stopped it, not … proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” President Trump tweeted at the time.
Sources say U.S. Cyber Command launched the cyberattack targeting the Iranian intelligence and radar installations which were used in the downing of the U.S. Navy drone last week. Some of Iran’s military radar sites went offline around the time the U.S. airstrikes were supposed to take place. It’s not clear if those radar sites were turned off by the cyberattack or if Iran shut them off deliberately in anticipation of this.
Tensions have steadily risen between the two countries following initial sanctions issued by Washington on Iran which led to attacks on two oil tankers. With the recent downing of the U.S. Navy drone, Iran has forced tensions to a boiling point.
A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a tweet Tuesday that the new U.S. sanctions that target Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other officials close any channel for diplomacy between the two countries “forever.” Abbas Mousavi took to Twitter to call out President Trump’s latest decision to impose additional sanctions and said the sanctions means “closing channel of diplomacy forever,” according to Reuters.
“Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security,” the tweet read. Trump has shown strength in his show of prudence while dealing with a hostile country. Trump appears hesitant to enter another hot war in the region and has proven that in how carefully he has tread in his dealings with Iran. On the other hand, Iran, seems to be war hungry as they attempt to provoke the U.S. into an action that would spring the two nations into war and likely their allies as well. Trump said Monday. however, that his “restraint” is not limitless.