The U.S. imposed fresh sanctions on Iran as President Donald Trump seeks to punish Tehran for its ballistic missile program after warning that the Islamic Republic that it is “playing with fire.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: In one, fell swoop, the nascent Trump administration declared that the ‘Obama Days’ of coddling and kowtowing to Iran are absolutely over, and tells Tehran that they are ‘playing with fire’. This reminds me so much of when America transitioned from the weakness of the Jimmy Carter days into the strength of the Reagan years.
In a statement Friday morning, the Treasury Department published a list of 13 individuals and 12 entities facing new restrictions for supporting the missile program, having links to terrorism or providing support for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The entities include companies based in Tehran, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and China.
“This action reflects the United States’ commitment to enforcing sanctions on Iran with respect to its ballistic missile program and destabilizing activities in the region and is fully consistent with the United States’ commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” the statement said in a reference to the nuclear accord Iran reached with the U.S. and five other world powers.
Krauthammer’s Take: Obama Was Soft on Iran, Trump Says ‘Those Days Are Over’
The Trump administration has taken a hard line on Iran, banning its citizens from entering the U.S. and accusing the nation of interfering in the affairs of U.S. allies in the Middle East. While such an approach could satisfy hawks in Washington who were never comfortable with President Barack Obama’s tentative rapprochement with Iran, it could also unsettle domestic Iranian politics as President Hassan Rouhani seeks re-election in May.
“Iran is playing with fire — they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!,” Trump tweeted early Friday.
The move was praised by Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who said it “makes clear that it is a new day in U.S.-Iran relations and that we will no longer tolerate Iran’s destabilizing behavior.”
Ahead of the announcement, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “Iran unmoved by threats as we derive security from our people.” He added later: “We will never use our weapons against anyone, except in self-defense.”
Tensions between the two sides were already escalating before the missile tests. While they didn’t contravene the nuclear accord signed in 2015, the missile tests are seen by some nations as going against a UN Security Council resolution that enshrines the agreement.
The new sanctions aren’t directed at Iran’s nuclear program and wouldn’t directly affect the agreement forged under Obama’s administration that eased restrictions in exchange for Iran’s promise not to develop nuclear weapons, two people familiar with U.S. strategy said Thursday.
For its part, Iran has urged the U.S. not to overreact to the tests. Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan insisted they were part of Iran’s ongoing defense program and were not illegal, according to the Tasnim news agency. source