President Trump signed an executive order today imposing new sanctions on Iran, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other military leaders, CNN reports. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, will be designated later this week. The executive order comes after Trump backed away from a military strike against Iran on Friday and signals a new tact for the administration in dealing with the conflict with Iran.
Trump said the sanctions are a “strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions.” He added, “We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran until the regime abandons its dangerous activities and its aspirations, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
Trump noted that these sanctions will deny the Supreme Leader and others “access to financial instruments”. He said, “The supreme leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime. He’s respected within his country. His office oversees the regime’s most brutal instruments.”
“America is a peace loving nation. We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country.” Trump said. “I look forward to the day when sanctions can finally be lifted and Iran can become a peaceful, prosperous, and productive nation. That can go very quickly. It can be tomorrow, it can also be in years from now. So I look forward to discussing whatever I have to discuss with anybody that wants to speak. In the meantime, who knows what’s going to happen. I can only tell you we cannot ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon. And it won’t happen.”
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, with Vice President Mike Pence and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin standing by, Trump pointed to the recent downing of a US drone and attacks on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, The Hill reports. However, CNN reports that neither the president nor Mnuchin would clarify exactly what the sanctions are in retaliation for and President Trump noted that “this was going to happen anyway”.
After the Oval Office announcement, Mnuchin spoke with reporters in the White House briefing room and said, “Some of this was in the works, some of this was a result of recent activities. I’m not going to identify which is which.”
He told reporters that the sanctions are not symbolic and are “highly effective”, locking up tens of millions of dollars and cutting off funds.
Mnuchin said, “Our issue is not with the people of Iran. We are not looking at creating issues for the people of Iran.” He continued, “Having said that, we have sanctions against bad behavior, and there’s no question that locking this money up worked last time, and there’s no question locking the money up works now.”