Donald Trump has sought an aggressive stance against Iran in recent weeks, as he blamed the nation for perceived slights against the US. Last week, Mr Trump claimed the country shot down a drone over international waters. Instead, the President initiated a missile strike against the country, which he cancelled at the last second. In its place, a fresh round of sanctions was put in place against the country.
The new sanctions target Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei and Iranian military chiefs.
Mr Trump’s executive order is set against eight senior Iranian commanders who sit “atop a bureaucracy that supervises the IRGC’s [the elite Islamic Revolution Guard Corps] malicious regional activities”.
Further sanctions will be imposed on Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Mr Trump’s order came just one day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was prepared for bilateral talks with Iran with “no preconditions”.
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Lawrence Ward is a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney, specialising in international business focusing on US national security law.
He said Donald Trump’s latest round of sanctions against Iran is telling of avoidance rather than the enactment of conflict.
He said: ”This latest round of sanctions by the Trump Administration was likely designed to avoid military action in response to Iran’s provocations last week and to show the Iranian leadership that the United States is not afraid of taking a further isolationist position as to Iran.
“Historically, non-US financial institutions have adhered to these types of so-called “secondary sanctions” because the threat of cutting off access to the US financial system is too grave and too big a business risk for them.”
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“Importantly though, in the past, these secondary sanctions – particularly as to Iran – have worked because key allies mirrored the US position on Iran.
“Given that the United States is now an outlier after leaving the JCPOA, key European and Asian allies will be in the tough position of deciding to adhere to these secondary sanctions while still supporting the JCPOA.
“Undoubtedly, the Trump administration’s hope is that these sanctions will bring Iran back to the negotiating table but in recent weeks Iran does not seem afraid of ‘doubling down’ itself.
“The true impact of these latest sanctions likely will not be felt until the US Government issues sanctions against one or more foreign financial institutions.”
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Iranian president Hassan Rouhani held a press conference in response to Monday’s order, in which he said Mr Trump’s actions were a sign of desperation.
Mr Rouhani said the latest round of sanctions was “outrageous” and ”idiotic”.
The president said Mr Trump’s efforts against Al Khamenei would fail, as the leader had no assets abroad.
He also warned Tehran’s “strategic patience” should not be mistaken for fear.