US Sanctions Iranian Regime Leader, Military Commanders

By Bowen Xiao

President Donald Trump imposed new “hard-hitting” sanctions on Iran on June 24 that targeted Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as the Treasury Department took action against eight “senior commanders” of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).

In the oval office, Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions after a series of “aggressive behaviors” by the Islamic nation which he described as “not appropriate.”

Tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies, including Saudi Arabia, have risen since Washington pulled out of a deal last year aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. Tensions grew further in May when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.

Trump said he would have imposed the additional sanctions regardless of the drone incident, blaming the recent conflict on Iran’s leadership and said the new U.S. measures “represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions.”

“The Supreme Leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime,” he told reporters. “He is respected within his country. His office oversees the regime’s most brutal instruments.”

The president said the executive order will deny “access to key financial resources” used by the Supreme Leader, his office, and those “closely affiliated” with him.

The administration wants to force Tehran to open up to talks on its nuclear and missile programs and its activities in the region. Trump also reiterated that the United States does not want a conflict with Iran, telling reporters, “I can only tell you we cannot ever let Iran have a nuclear weapon.”

Days ago, Trump said he had hoped to make a deal with Tehran to bolster its flagging economy, as his administration took on a more diplomatic approach to increase pressure on the Islamic regime. The White House said Trump has been clear about his willingness to open future talks with Iran.

Washington has blamed Tehran for attacks on tankers in the Gulf in recent weeks, which Iran denies. On June 24, the United States said it was building a coalition with allies to protect Gulf shipping lanes.

Trump told reporters the United States has already shown “a lot of restraint” in dealing with Tehran and warned they may not “show it in the future.”

Iran’s Military Commanders

According to the White House, Trump’s executive order authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to impose sanctions on officials appointed to their position by the Supreme Leader.

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said they reinforced Trump’s order with the sanctioning of commanders from the Navy, Aerospace, and Ground Forces of the IRGC.

The eight commanders supervise the IRGC’s “malicious regional activities” including ballistic missile programs, sabotage of commercial vessels in international waters, and its “destabilizing presence in Syria,” the department said.

Trump is also authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to impose sanctions on any person who provides material support to the Supreme Leader’s Office.

“IRGC commanders are responsible for the Iranian regime’s provocative attacks orchestrated in internationally recognized waters and airspace, as well as Iran’s malign activities in Syria,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement.

Mnuchin said the department’s actions are a warning to officials “at all levels of the IRGC” and those of the Iranian regime in that they will continue to sanction anyone who exports “violence, sabotage, and terrorism.”

On June 20, an Iranian missile destroyed a U.S. Global Hawk surveillance drone in international airspace, according to the Pentagon. Trump later said he had called off a retaliatory military strike at the last minute after being told it would kill 150 people, saying on Twitter that it “was not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

Coalition With Allies

A senior U.S. State Department official said on June 24 a coalition with allies would provide both material and financial contributions to protect Gulf shipping lanes.

The United States has said Iran was responsible for the June 13 attacks against two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, near the Strait of Hormuz.

“It’s about proactive deterrence because the Iranians just want to go out and do what they want to do and say hey we didn’t do it. We know what they’ve done,” the official told reporters, adding that the deterrents would include cameras, binoculars and ships.

The United States accuses Iran of encouraging Houthi rebels in Yemen to attack Saudi targets.

In a joint statement on Monday, the United States, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Britain expressed concern over Middle East tensions and the dangers posed by Iranian “destabilizing activity” to peace and security in Yemen and the region.

Reuters contributed to this report 

From The Epoch Times