Following the recent missile test by Iran, the Americans added new Iranian persons and entities to the sanctions list, targeting those involved with the Iranian missile program or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force, a paramilitary group that works outside Iran’s borders. “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 U.S. Treasury official John E. Smith in a press release posted to the Treasury website. “…We will continue to actively apply all available tools, including financial sanctions, to address this behavior.” And another U.S. official hinted more could be on the way.
Iran, meanwhile, responded defiantly and warned they would take measures of their own against the U.S. The Fars News Agency reported that the Iranian Foreign Ministry said they would “respond proportionately and reciprocally to any move that targets the interests of the Iranian people” by imposing restrictions on American persons and entities. The Iranians called their missile program an “undeniable and inalienable right,” although the Americans specifically argued the Iranian missile test violated United Nations resolution 2231.
Smith, the acting director for the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), said the new American sanctions on Iran are “ongoing efforts to counter Iranian malign activity abroad.” Both Smith and other U.S. officials emphasized this is outside the context of the international nuclear deal with Iran, which alleviated sanctions on Iran in exchange for compromises by Iran on their nuclear program.
An unnamed senior U.S. official, speaking to reporters on February 3 in comments posted to the State Department website, said, “These tests are extraordinarily provocative and they’re extremely destabilizing. Additionally, the Security Council resolution makes clear that Iran can’t undertake these activities when a ballistic missile would be capable of carrying a nuclear weapon, and in this case, this kind of ballistic missile meets that very qualification.”
Another senior U.S. administration official, speaking on the same call on condition of anonymity, said that the latest sanctions are “just initial steps in response to Iranians’ provocative behavior, and that we’ve been going through a deliberative process.”
That ongoing process is something Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to discuss with British and American leaders over the next couple of weeks. In comments released by his office on Sunday, Netanyahu said Iran understands there are new governments in both nations and “are trying to test the boundaries with extraordinary aggression, gall and defiance.”
Said the Israeli leader, “I think that the most important thing at the moment is that countries like the U.S, which will take the lead, Israel and the U.K. line up together against Iran’s aggression and set clear limits to it.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 5, 2017)