WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday announced sanctions targeting several entities it says are involved in procuring supplies for Tehran’s nuclear program.
The move “reinforces” Washington’s commitment to prevent Iran from developing ballistic missiles, said the Treasury’s under secretary for terrorism Brian Nelson in a statement.
He said that while the United States continues to seek “Iran’s full return” to the 2015 nuclear deal, it “will not hesitate to target those who support Iran’s ballistic missile program.”
“We will also work with other partners in the region to hold Iran accountable for its actions, including gross violations of the sovereignty of its neighbors,” he said.
The sanctions target Iranian national Mohammad Ali Hosseini and his “network of companies” as suppliers of the program, according to the statement.
They follow “Iran’s missile attack on Arbil, Iraq on March 13 and the Iranian enabled Houthi missile attack against a Saudi Aramco facility on March 25 as well as other missile attacks by Iranian proxies against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” it said.
Iran had claimed responsibility for the March 13 missile strikes, saying they targeted an Israeli “strategic centre” and warning of more attacks.
The March 25 attack was carried out by Iranian-sponsored Yemeni rebels on a Saudi oil plant, part of a wave of assaults on Aramco facilities.
The sanctions come at a time when the United States seems close to an agreement with Tehran on returning to the 2015 nuclear deal.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) gave Iran much-needed sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program that would guarantee it could not develop a nuclear weapon – something it has always denied seeking.
But it fell apart in 2018, when then-president Donald Trump withdrew the United States and reimposed crippling economic sanctions.
Iran, in response, began rolling back on most of its commitments under the accord.
Current US President Joe Biden took steps shortly after taking office to revive the deal, promising an easing of punishing sanctions in exchange for restoring JCPOA controls.
Indirect negotiations between the rival states, which have been underway in Vienna for nearly a year, have overcome repeated disagreements but outstanding issues remain.
Among them is a Tehran demand that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the ideological arm of Iran’s military and which carried out the attack in Arbil, be removed from a US terror blacklist, which Washington has resisted.