Trump says new Iran sanctions have come into effect
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Trump says new Iran sanctions have come into effect

‘It’s already been done. We’ve increased them. They were very severe, but now it’s increased substantially,’ Trump says, without offering any specifics

US President Donald Trump speaks about the situation with Iran in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, DC, January 8, 2020. (Eric Baradat/AFP)
US President Donald Trump speaks about the situation with Iran in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, DC, January 8, 2020. (Eric Baradat/AFP)

US President Donald Trump said Thursday the United States had imposed new sanctions on Iran following missile strikes on bases housing US troops in Iraq that resulted in no American or Iraqi deaths.

“It’s already been done. We’ve increased them. They were very severe, but now it’s increased substantially,” Trump said, without offering any specifics.

Trump had promised the “additional punishing sanctions” in an address to the nation Wednesday in retaliation for the attack — seen by experts as a measured first response by Tehran to the killing of Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, in an American drone strike in Baghdad.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen significantly since the US carried out the airstrike that killed Soleimani. In the wake of the killing, the Iraqi parliament voted to press the government to expel US troops from the country and Iran announced that it will no longer abide by any of the limits of its 2015 nuclear deal.

An Iranian mourner holds a placard during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qasem Soleimani, in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. (ATTA KENARE / AFP)

The Trump administration has already reinstated all the US sanctions that were eased under the 2015 nuclear deal. But it still has room to boost the penalties and step up its “maximum pressure campaign” on Iran. Some argue that he could call for the reimposition, or “snapback,” of all international sanctions at the United Nations.

The primary agencies involved in implementing sanctions — the departments of Commerce, State and Treasury — do not disclose any actions in advance to prevent targets from taking steps to evade them.

Yet, the administration retains broad authority to expand existing US sanctions on Iran’s financial, energy, shipping and military sectors and it can target individual Iranian officials and their families with penalties, including asset freezes and travel bans.

It can also raise the pressure by threatening foreign individuals and companies with US civil and criminal penalties if they do business with designated Iranians, under so-called secondary sanctions authority.

The US House of Representatives is slated to hold a vote on Thursday on limiting Trump’s ability to take military action against Iran.

Because of a procedural dispute between the two parties, it was unclear whether Thursday’s vote would be a step toward binding Trump’s hands on Iran or a symbolic gesture of opposition by Democrats.

Republicans say the proposal — a special type of resolution that does not get the president’s signature — does not have the force of law. Democrats say that under the 1973 War Powers Act, it would be binding if also approved by the Senate. The matter has not been definitively decided by federal courts.

The House vote on a war powers resolution was scheduled shortly after a briefing on Iran Wednesday by top administration officials that many Democrats criticized as lacking specific justification for the killing.

Iran retaliated early Wednesday local time by launching missiles at two military bases in Iraq that house American troops. No casualties were reported.

The US’s European allies announced earlier this month that they would work to de-escalate tensions between Tehran and Washington in the wake of Soleimani’s killing.

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