The U.S. is hitting Iran with fresh sanctions in response to the Islamic Republic’s missile attacks against American forces housed at Iraqi bases.
“President Trump is delivering on the pledge that he made the day after Iran attacked American forces in Iraq," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a press briefing on Friday. "The goal of our campaign is to deny the regime the resources to conduct its destructive foreign policy. We want Iran to simply behave like a normal nation. We believe the sanctions that we imposed today further that strategic objective."
New penalties will be imposed against any individual owning, operating, trading with or assisting sectors of the Iranian economy, including construction, manufacturing, textiles and mining, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced, adding that the sanctions will be both primary and secondary.
Seventeen additional sanctions will be placed on Iran’s largest steel and iron manufacturers, three Seychelles-based entities and a vessel involved in the transfer of product, which will “cut off billions of support to Iranian regime,” he said.
Finally, the U.S. will place penalties on eight senior Iranian officials involved in Tuesday’s missile attack.
The Trump administration's sanctions have already taken a toll on Iran’s economy. The Islamic Republic was the world’s fifth-largest oil producer in 2017, but its rank has fallen since. White House actions "led oil production to nearly halve over the last few years and exports to fall close to zero,” wrote Bank of America analyst Christopher Kuplent. As a result, Iran’s real GDP declined about 10 percent in 2019, according to International Monetary Fund data.
Last September, the Trump administration placed additional sanctions on Iran’s central bank and its sovereign wealth fund. A few months before that, sanctions were imposed on the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and top diplomats.
Pompeo said the sanctions have wiped out 80 percent of Iran's oil revenue and blocked the Islamic Republic from accessing 90 percent of its foreign currency reserves.
Friday's actions "are part of our commitment to stop the Iranian regime's global terrorist activities," Mnuchin said. "The president has been very clear. We will continue to apply economic sanctions until Iran stops its terrorist activities and commits that it will never have nuclear weapons."
Tough economic sanctions are a different approach than what was taken by the Obama administration, which crafted the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or Iran nuclear deal, along with five other countries: China, France, Russia, Germany and the United Kingdom. Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its development of nuclear capabilities for 15 years.
President Trump, who withdrew the United States from the deal in May 2018, repeatedly slammed the pact, calling it "defective at its core."