U.S. Adds Sanctions on Iran Over Ballistic Missile Program

The U.S. moved to add more sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program as President Donald Trump signals increasing frustration with the Islamic Republic and the accord over its nuclear program reached during the Obama administration.

The Treasury Department announced Friday it was adding six companies associated with Iran’s Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, which it said is “central to Iran’s ballistic missile program.”

“The U.S. Government will continue to aggressively counter Iran’s ballistic missile-related activity, whether it be a provocative space launch, its development of threatening ballistic missile systems, or likely support to Yemeni Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia such as occurred this past weekend,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement.

The sanctions are the second set imposed by the Trump administration this month targeting the ballistic missile program. Congress this week cleared a three-country sanctions bill that would broaden existing restrictions on Iran, Russia and North Korea. The White House has given mixed messages on whether Trump will sign the legislation.

The latest move prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with the sanctioned companies and says financial institutions that deal with them “risk exposure to sanctions that could sever their access to the U.S. financial system,” according to the statement.

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The U.S. also placed sanctions in Iran on July 18, restrictions that were directed at 18 people and entities for supporting its ballistic missile program or Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Trump, who took office vowing to scuttle the nuclear deal reached with Iran in 2015, has repeatedly expressed frustration that his administration continues to find the Islamic Republic in compliance with the accord, under a review required every 90 days. He told the Wall Street Journal in an interview this week that he expects to find Iran “noncompliant” with the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, before the next 90-day review period ends in October. 

One U.S. official said last week that the administration intended to work closely with allies — who have said Iran is keeping its end of the deal — to build a case that the JCPOA has serious flaws. The Associated Press reported Thursday that the Trump administration is pushing for more inspections of suspicious Iranian military sites to more thoroughly test its compliance.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded Friday to U.S. threats to shred the nuclear deal, writing on Twitter that "Iran – unlike the U.S. – has complied in good faith with the letter and spirit of JCPOA." The country “is not & will not be developing nuclear weapons; so by definition cannot develop anything designed to be capable of delivering them," which would violate the agreement.

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