By Arab News
The US on Tuesday imposed a new set of economic sanctions on Iran due to Tehran’s continuing destabilizing regional policies and activities related to its ballistic missile program.
The US Treasury Department designated 16 entities and individuals for supporting “illicit Iranian actors or transnational criminal activity.”
“These designations include seven entities and five individuals for engaging in activities in support of Iran’s military or Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as an Iran-based transnational criminal organization and three associated persons,” the department said in a statement.
Some of the activities targeted by the sanctions include developing drones, fast attack boats and other military equipment.
“The transnational criminal organization designated today, along with two Iranian businessmen and an associated entity, orchestrated the theft of US and Western software programs which, at times, were sold to the government of Iran,” the statement added.
The measures come a day after the administration of US President Donald Trump certified that Iran was in compliance with the agreement struck with the US and five other nations that puts restrictions on its nuclear energy program. But the administration made its continued concerns about various other issues very clear.
In a statement to reporters Monday night, a White House official suggested that the Trump administration was departing from the approach of former US President Barack Obama’s administration by addressing “the totality of Iran’s malign behavior and not narrowly focus(ing)” solely on its nuclear energy-related activities.
Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Washington-based nonpartisan policy institute, where he leads projects on Iran, sanctions, countering threat finance, and non-proliferation, said the new sanctions suggest the US is getting tougher on Tehran.
“The new sanctions are part of an escalation strategy that will see the Trump administration using all instruments of American power to roll back and subvert Iranian regime aggression,” Dubowitz told Arab News.
In comments to Arab News about the implications of the sanctions for US-Iranian relations, Alex Vatanka, an Iran scholar with the Middle East Institute said that going forward, “the ball is as much in the Iranian court, if not more so, than it is in the American court.”
He added that mixed signals from Iranian officials suggest that there is no agreement between Iranians themselves on the need for improved relations with the US.
Former US Ambassador to Iraq, James F. Jeffrey, a distinguished fellow at The Washington Institute, said: “The more important message from Washington is that it believes strongly that Iran is violating the spirit of the JCPOA with its destabilizing activities throughout the region, and that the US will live up to its May Riyadh Summit commitment to counter and contain Iran.”