United States Slaps New Sanctions on Iran

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    President Donald Trump speaks during a "Made in America," product showcase featuring items created in each of the U.S. 50 states, at the White House, Monday, July 17, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) Alex Brandon

Tribune Washington Bureau
Published: 7/18/2017 11:54:56 PM
Modified: 7/18/2017 11:55:03 PM

Washington — A day after declaring that Iran was obeying international restrictions on its nuclear program, the Trump administration went in the opposite direction and slapped new sanctions on the Tehran government for separate alleged transgressions.

The Treasury Department on Tuesday blacklisted 18 individuals and entities for supporting Iran’s military and Revolutionary Guards Corps, accusing them of trying to build ballistic missiles and steal U.S. computer software and of harassing U.S. naval vessels.

The sanctions mean it is illegal for American citizens or companies to do business with those on the list, and any assets they have in the U.S. can be seized.

The back-to-back actions reflect the policy crosscurrents for President Donald Trump in trying to reconcile his campaign promises with the realities of foreign policy governance.

As a candidate, he vowed to “rip up” the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which was brokered by the United States with five other countries and the European Union. It required the Islamic Republic to get rid of most of its nuclear material and infrastructure and to submit to intense monitoring.

The United Nations has repeatedly said Iran is complying.

But the administration has sought a way to thread the needle between not walking away from the deal — which would have potentially disastrous international consequences — and holding Iran accountable for other behaviors, such as its support for militant groups in Lebanon and Yemen.

Iran, along with Russia, also backs Syrian President Bashar Assad, whom the U.S. accuses of numerous atrocities against his citizenry.

“The United States remains deeply concerned about Iran’s malign activities across the Middle East, which undermine regional stability, security and prosperity,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday.

The nuclear agreement’s terms are limited to the nuclear weaponry issue. It does not address Iran’s ballistic missile program or any other aspects of its military activities or human rights record. Diplomats said at the time it would have been impossible to reach the nuclear agreement if the other issues were mixed in.

At a midnight deadline on Monday, the Trump administration certified that Iran was complying with the nuclear deal. By law, the U.S. must issue certification every 90 days. This is the second time Trump’s government has done so. It came with last-minute drama this time, as Trump balked at certification — against the wishes of his principal national security advisers, according to by a person close to the White House who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal debate.

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