Iran next on Trump’s list of targets
Aiming to show tough action against Iran, the White House is preparing a series of measures targeting its affiliates, even as US President Donald Trump quietly steps back from his campaign pledge to rip up the Iran nuclear deal.
New actions to be announced in the coming days will focus on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shi’ite militant group blamed for sowing discord in the Middle East and seeking Israel’s demise.
The actions include financial sanctions on anyone who does business with the Revolutionary Guard, as well as millions of dollars in rewards for information leading to the arrest of two Hezbollah operatives.
The measures were described by two Trump administration officials and a person familiar with the unfolding policy on Iran, on condition of anonymity.
The moves allow Trump to show he is not easing the pressure against the Islamic Republic, even though the nuclear deal he has long derided may live on – at least for the immediate future.
An avowed critic of the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, Trump has called it one of America’s ‘‘worst and most one-sided transactions’’ ever. Yet White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said yesterday that the president was looking beyond the deal for ways to pressure Tehran.
‘‘He’s looking at all of the bad behaviour of Iran – not just the nuclear deal as bad behaviour, but the ballistic missile testing, destabilising of the region, number one state sponsor of terrorism, cyberattacks, illicit nuclear programme.’’
The person familiar with Iran policy said H R McMaster, the president’s national security adviser, has been the key driver in developing the integrated strategy.
Trump is set to deliver a speech next week in which he is expected to decline to certify Iran’s compliance with the landmark 2015 agreement to rein in its nuclear programme. That would stop short of pulling out of the deal.
Lawmakers say Trump isn’t going to immediately announce new nuclear sanctions, which are prohibited by the deal, and instead will refer the matter to Congress.