New U.S. sanc­tions tar­get Iran

18 en­ti­ties pun­ished for aid­ing non-nu­clear bel­liger­ence

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - TRACY WILKIN­SON

WASH­ING­TON — A day af­ter declar­ing that Iran was obey­ing in­ter­na­tional restric­tions on its nu­clear pro­gram, Pres­i­dent Donald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion slapped new sanc­tions on the Tehran gov­ern­ment for non-nu­clear trans­gres­sions.

The Trea­sury Depart­ment on Tues­day black­listed 18 in­di­vid­u­als and en­ti­ties for sup­port­ing Iran’s mil­i­tary and Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards Corps, which it ac­cuses 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 U.S. cit­i­zens or com­pa­nies to do busi­ness with those on the list and that any as­sets that those listed have in the U.S. can be seized.

The back-to-back ac­tions re­flect the pol­icy cross­cur­rents for 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 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 spokesman Heather Nauert said Tues­day.

The nu­clear agree­ment is 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 that it would have been im­pos­si­ble to reach the nu­clear agree­ment if the other is­sues were mixed in.

At a mid­night dead­line 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. Trump at one point balked at cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, against the wishes of his prin­ci­pal na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers, ac­cord­ing to a per­son close to the White House who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity to de­scribe the in­ter­nal de­bate.

On Mon­day, af­ter talk­ing points for cer­ti­fy­ing Iran’s com­pli­ance al­ready had been dis­trib­uted within the ad­min­is­tra­tion, Trump told se­nior ad­vis­ers that he was hav­ing sec­ond thoughts and wanted other op­tions.

Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son vis­ited the Oval Of­fice about 1:30 p.m. for a pre­vi­ously sched­uled and un­re­lated meet­ing with Trump, but the discussion was dom­i­nated by what to do with the Iran deal.

Tiller­son ar­gued that al­lies needed more no­tice be­fore stat­ing Iran wasn’t com­ply­ing with the deal. Trump na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser H.R. McMaster and other se­nior ad­vis­ers present, in­clud­ing Gen. Joseph Dun­ford, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also made the case for hold­ing off.

But Steve Ban­non, Trump’s strate­gic ad­viser who keeps a list of Trump’s cam­paign pledges on a white board in his White House of­fice, said Trump should fol­low through with his prom­ise to tear up the deal.

Af­ter nearly an hour, Trump agreed to sup­port cer­ti­fi­ca­tion but de­manded a plan for get­ting tougher on Iran. Fac­ing the mid­night dead­line to in­form Congress, ad­vis­ers still were tweak­ing the word­ing of the an­nounce­ment as late as 9:30 p.m.

Hours af­ter the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, the ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced the new sanc­tions for Iran’s sep­a­rate ac­tions. The penal­ties are the lat­est in a long list of at­tempts to pun­ish Tehran.

“Iran’s other ma­lign ac­tiv­i­ties are serv­ing to un­der­cut what­ever ‘pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions’ to re­gional and in­ter­na­tional peace and se­cu­rity were in­tended to emerge from the” nu­clear agree­ment, Nauert said.

Be­sides Iran’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards, the new sanc­tions tar­get the mil­i­tary’s use of so­called fast at­tack boats, which are the small ves­sels Iran uses to ha­rass U.S. ships in the Per­sian Gulf re­gion’s waters.

Most of those sanc­tioned Tues­day were Ira­nian, but one com­pany is based in Turkey and one in­di­vid­ual is a Chi­nese na­tional.

The sanc­tions “send a strong sig­nal that the United States can­not and will not tol­er­ate Iran’s provoca­tive and desta­bi­liz­ing be­hav­ior,” Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steve Mnuchin said.

As part of the nu­clear ac­cord, nu­mer­ous in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions on Iran were lifted, al­low­ing it to ex­port oil and re­join the global fi­nan­cial sys­tem.

The State Depart­ment also reis­sued calls for the re­lease of U.S. cit­i­zens ar­rested in Iran.

AP

Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son (left) ar­gued Mon­day that U.S. al­lies needed more time be­fore any new sanc­tions on Iran, while pres­i­den­tial strate­gic ad­viser Steve Ban­non (right) called on Pres­i­dent Donald Trump to keep his cam­paign prom­ise and re­pu­di­ate the Ira­nian nu­clear agree­ment.

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