The US is reportedly expected to impose sanctions on over two dozen Iranian entities following the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile test this week, in a move that could come as soon as Friday.
The fresh sanctions would be introduced in a way that would not violate the 2015 nuclear agreement that lifted international punitive measures on Tehran in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.
A source familiar with the issue told Reuters on Thursday that 17 Iranian entities have been “designated” by the US for activities related to ballistic missile development and launches and another eight were marked for terror-related activities.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the measures have been under consideration for some time and that Iran’s January 29 launch of a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead had helped US President Donald Trump make the decision.
Earlier in the day, Trump had warned that “nothing is off the table,” when it came to a US response to Iran’s controversial test of a ballistic missile, followed reportedly by the launch of a home-made cruise missile, also capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
The US president had also tweeted that “Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the US made with them!” — echoing remarks made Wednesday by National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
Trump’s comments followed a string of remarks by GOP senators, including the House Speaker, backing additional sanctions on Iran in the wake of the missile test, which prompted an emergency UN Security Council session and a call by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reimpose sanctions.
“I would be in favor of additional sanctions on Iran,” Ryan said at a weekly press conference on Thursday. “We need to have a tough-on-Iran policy…We should stop appeasing Iran.”
“I think the last administration appeased Iran far too much. I think they went too far with Iran and I think as a result Iran is far more activist than it otherwise would be,” said Ryan.
“Iran, don’t forget … is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Iran writes on their missiles in Farsi, Hebrew and English ‘Death to America’, ‘Death to Israel’ and then tests them. So this is not a friendly country that has global peace or national security interests in their minds,” the US House speaker added.
Also Thursday, Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Reuters: “I think there’s a lot that we can do, now, that we were unable to do before to push back against Iran,” adding that the committee was “in the early stages” of working on legislation related to the nuclear deal.
“The administration, thankfully, is going to follow through on appropriately holding Iran accountable for the violations that are taking place,” he said.
Senator Lindsey Graham joined the chorus Thursday, telling CNN that “the world should not only condemn Iran but we should have multi-national sanctions against the regime for their continued violation of the UN Security Council resolutions regarding their missile program.”
On January 29, Iran is said to have tested a 4,000-kilometer (2,500-mile) ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. On Thursday, the German newspaper Die Welt reported that Iran also tested a home-made cruise missile with the same capabilities: the Soumar, with a range of up to 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles), flew 600 kilometers (373 miles) on its maiden voyage, according to the German report.
The rocket is reportedly a re-engineered Russian KH-55 cruise missile, which is capable of reaching Israel from Iran, and has the advantage that it can be launched from ships, aircraft and submarines.
The missiles are not covered by UN Resolution 2231, which was passed shortly after the nuclear deal with Iran was signed in July 2015 and calls on Tehran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.” Iran argues that its ballistic missile program is also not covered by the resolution because it does not have a nuclear weapons program.
During his campaign, Trump promised both to “dismantle the disastrous deal” and to “force the Iranians back to the bargaining table to make a much better deal, but in a call to the Saudi king on Sunday promised to “vigorously enforce” the controversial agreement.
Netanyahu on Thursday demanded the reimposition of sanctions against Iran, terming the test a “flagrant breach” of UN Security Council resolutions, and said he would discuss with Trump a reevaluation of the “entire failed nuclear accord” during their February 15 meeting in Washington.