…from Press TV, Tehran
US President Donald Trump has announced new sanctions against Iran targeting the office of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Iran’s foreign minister and senior commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
Trump signed an executive order in the Oval Office of the White House on Monday that he said will deny the Leader’s office and other Iranian officials access to financial instruments.
Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the Tehran’s downing of a surveillance US drone last week by the IRGC. He said the Leader was ultimately responsible for what Trump called “the hostile conduct of the regime.”
“Sanctions imposed through the executive order … will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader’s office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support,” Trump said.
“We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran, until the regime abandons its dangerous activities” he said.
“We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country,” he added. “I can only tell you we cannot ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon.” Iran’s leadership has repeatedly expressed their firm opposition to the development and use of nuclear weapons.
Sanctions would lock billions of dollars more in Iranian assets: Mnuchin
Shortly after Trump signed the order, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that some of the Iranian sanctions were in the works before the drone was shot down.
He added that later this week sanctions will also be imposed on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“We’ve literally locked up tens and tens of billions of dollars,” Mnuchin said in the White House briefing room. “These sanctions are highly effective.”
Sanctions were also imposed on eight senior commanders of Navy, Aerospace, and Ground Forces of the IRGC, the US Treasury Department said in a statement.
“These commanders sit atop a bureaucracy that supervises the IRGC’s malicious regional activities, including its provocative ballistic missile program, harassment and sabotage of commercial vessels in international waters, and its destabilizing presence in Syria,” the statement read.
Trump told reporters outside the White House on Saturday that he was imposing new sanctions on Tehran to “make Iran great again.”
“We are putting additional sanctions on Iran,” Trump said. “In some cases we are going slowly, but in other cases we are moving rapidly.”
Trump said that he would be Iran’s “best friend” if it stopped pursuing nuclear weapons. He then praised Iran for not shooting down a manned plane with 38 people on board when it decided to shoot down an unmanned American surveillance drone on Thursday.
In a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last week in Tehran, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution dismissed Trump as a person not worthy of a response or a message.
“I personally do not consider Trump worthy of exchanging any messages with, and do not have and will not have any response for him,” the Leader told Abe.
“I have issued a fatwa (religious decree) prohibiting the production of nuclear weapons, but you need to know that if we were after building nuclear arms, the United States could not do anything about it,” Ayatollah Khamenei added.
The Leader emphasized that Washington is in no position to decide which country can be in possession of nuclear arms while it is, itself, stockpiling several thousands of nuclear warheads.