- President Donald Trump announced Saturday that the US would pursue additional sanctions on Iran to increase pressure on the country to reconsider its nuclear arsenal.
- Iran’s top diplomat said earlier this month that sanctions from the Trump administration have waged an “economic war” against Tehran.
- The sanctions come as the latest of back-and-forth tensions between the countries.
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President Donald Trump announced Saturday that the US would pursue additional sanctions on Iran to increase pressure
Speaking to reporters outside the White House before his departure to Camp David, Trump promised that “a lot more sanctions” will be enacted, but did not specify which areas they would target.
“Iran right now is an economic mess,” he said. “They are going through hell, the sanctions are hitting them hard.”
The president’s comments come weeks after Iran’s top diplomat said existing conditions under sanctions from the Trump administration that he said have waged an “economic war” against Tehran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said the US “cannot expect to stay safe” as the US continues to hammer Iran’s economy with harsh sanctions amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran that have led to fears of war, The Associated Press reported.
Trump also promised that though he was looking forward to moving on from the downing of an unmanned US drone by elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces, there would be harsh retaliation if Tehran enacted any further military action. He added that the countries’ relationship was pending a deal to limit the country’s nuclear arsenal.
Trump’s comments Saturday were the firmest development in his response to Iran, coming a day after he tweeted that sanctions were added after the drone was shot down, though none were imposed.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during a Friday speech that new counter-measures against Iran would be considered to punish the country for money laundering and terrorist-financing, not the military action and nuclear arsenal Trump had proposed as US priorities.
The Treasury Department had previously announced new sanctions against Iran earlier this month that target the country’s largest petrochemical company for supporting the IRGC. The country hit back in a letter to the UN, in which it said the US “endangered international peace and security” by withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions.
Iran shocked the global community when it announced earlier this month that it intended to build up its uranium stockpile and ramp up enrichment of low-grade uranium, violating the 2015 nuclear deal to hit back at sanctions that were re-imposed when Trump pulled out of a nuclear deal in May 2018.
The sanctions in part bar not only US companies from trading with Iran, but also with other foreign agents dealing with Iran.The BBC reports that the sanctions have led to shortages of “imported goods and products that are made with raw materials from abroad,” particularly babies’ diapers.
The reset sanctions triggered an economic meltdown, sinking Iran’s currency to record lows.
Trump drew a clear line for next steps between the countries to a happy medium and rehab for Iran’s economy Saturday.
“We’re not going to have Iran have a nuclear weapon,” Trump said. “When they agree to that, they’re going to have a wealthy country. They’re going to be so happy, and I’m going to be their best friend. I hope that happens.”
Brian Hook, the US special envoy to Iran, doubled down on Trump’s promise for sanctions on CNBC Saturday.
Hook said the sanctions would increase pressure on Iran to address the country’s “regional aggression” and bring Iran “back to the negotiating table.”
“Ultimately we would like to have a new deal that addresses Iran’s regional aggression, the missile program, and its nuclear program,” Hook said. “In order to do that, it is going to take pressure. And in order to get Iran to change its behaviour, it is going to take a lot of pressure. So we are going to increase our sanctions on Iran, we are going to continue with this foreign policy.”
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