US imposes sanctions on Iranian leaders

The US administration announced additional sanctions against Iranian leaders yesterday as part of its response to Iran shooting down a US drone last week.

The sanctions will target eight senior Iranian commanders who the US Treasury says are at the top of the bureaucracy that supervises Iran’s “malicious regional activities”. The sanctions will “deny Iran’s leadership access to financial resources and authorises the targeting of person’s appointed to certain official or other positions by the Supreme Leader of the Supreme Leader’s Office,” according to the US Treasury.

The Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayotollah Ali Khamenei, is among those subject to the new sanctions. President Donald Trump accused him of being: “Ultimately responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime.” Sanctions will also be imposed on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, according to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Trump said the sanctions were a response to the shooting down of a US drone “and many other things,” but Mnuchin said the executive order was in the works before the drone was shot down. Signing the executive order, President Trump said: “We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country. I can only tell you we cannot ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon.”

Hitting back, Zarif wrote on Twitter that hawkish politicians close to Trump “despise diplomacy, and thirst for war”. Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, described the situation to media as “very dangerous” while the UN Security Council held closed consultations on the rising tensions between the US and Iran. He added that the US should deescalate tensions by stopping its “military adventurism” in the region and ending “economic warfare against the Iranian people”.

The UN Security Council issued a statement after the consultations that said: “The council members urge concerned parties and all countries in the region to exercise maximum restraint and take measures and actions to reduce escalation and end tension.” The council also condemned the attacks on oil tankers in the Middle East.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Saudi Arabia yesterday, before arriving in the UAE last night, as he attempts to build a united front against Iran. In Saudi Arabia Pompeo met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. In the UAE he met with Crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed.