US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order imposing new “strong sanctions” against Iran in response to Tehran’s downing of an American drone last week.
Trump said the latest sanctions would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday that Khamenei and his associates would be denied access to financial resources by the new sanctions.
The sanctions, Trump said, represent “a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions.” The US will “continue to increase” pressure on Tehran, he added, saying that the fresh sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident with the downed drone.
The new sanctions come a day after the US claimed it launched massive and successful cyber strikes against Iranian military computer systems, although Tehran claimed Washignton’s efforts failed.
Trump said on Friday that he had called off a military strike on Iran which would have killed 150 people, saying that he does not want war, but promising “obliteration like you’ve never seen before” if the US does decide to attack Iran.
Earlier this month, the US accused Tehran of being behind attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, but even US allies Germany and Japan have cast doubt on shaky evidence presented by the Pentagon.
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Trump’s executive order will lock up billions of dollars more in Iranian assets.
Mnuchin also promised that Iranian Foreign Secretary Javad Zarif will be hit with sanctions later in the week, adding that the US has not consulted with its allies on the specifics of the planned measures.
Meanwhile, Iran has said it is prepared to shoot down American drones “again and again” if they violate its airspace. The US has claimed that the surveillance drone was shot down in international airspace, while Iran claims its was destroyed over its own territory.