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POST TIME: 25 June, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 25 June, 2019 02:26:34 AM
New US sanctions target Iran supreme leader, military brass
AFP, Washington

New US sanctions target Iran supreme leader, military brass

New US sanctions imposed on Iran yesterday target Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and senior military leaders of the Islamic republic. President Donald Trump slapped the sanctions on Tehran for what he described as its "aggressive behavior" including the shooting down of US drone.

The White House said the sanctions "will deny Iran's leadership access to financial resources, blocking them from using the United States financial system or accessing any assets in the United States." In addition to Khamenei, the US Treasury Department said it was taking action against eight senior commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

"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 Treasury Department said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the United States will also blacklist Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and block "billions" more in Iranian assets.

"This action is a warning to officials at all levels of the IRGC and the rest of the Iranian regime that we will continue to sanction those who export violence, sabotage, and terrorism," Mnuchin said. The new sanctions build on a series of previous ones imposed by the United States over the past few months in a bid to isolate the Islamic republic.

In November, six months after Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran, the United States took aim at its oil exports and financial transactions.

Specific actions targeted Iran's banking, shipping and energy sectors, threatening penalties against companies, even those of US allies in Europe and elsewhere, who do business in them.

According to the Bloomberg news agency, Iranian oil exports have fallen from 1.5 million barrels per day in October 2018 to 750,000 bpd in April.

In May, in a bid to further choke off oil exports, Iran's top foreign exchange earner, the United States lifted exemptions granted to eight countries, including Turkey and India, allowing them to purchase Iranian oil.

Meanwhile, Zarif yesterday said US President Donald Trump was right to say US forces have "no business" in the Gulf.  Mohammad Javad Zarif also said Trump and those around him pushing a hard line on Iran "despise diplomacy", in his first post on Twitter after he himself was targeted in a new batch of US sanctions.

Trump "is 100% right that the US military has no business in the Persian Gulf. Removal of its forces is fully in line with interests of US and the world," Zarif tweeted. "But it's now clear that the #B_Team is not concerned with US interests-they despise diplomacy, and thirst for war," he added, referring to US national security adviser John Bolton and others.