Official: White House Is Brewing Fresh Sanctions against Iran

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White House's South Facade

According a Trump administration official, the White House is preparing a fresh salvo of sanctions against Iran. The official described the plan as being “in the works” and pledged to unveil it Friday.

The news comes just days after Iran conducted an authorized ballistic missile test. Two days ago, National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn said the administration officially put the country “on notice”.

On Wednesday, Flynn said the Middle East country’s recent actions placed millions of Americans at risk as they threatened the region’s security and stability. The general deemed Iran’s recent move “provocative”. The actions included a missile test on Sunday and an attack on a Saudi ship by Houthi militants on Monday.

In January 2016, the U.S. lifted a ban on non-U.S. investments and trade operations in Iran after Tehran pledged to curb its controversial nuclear program. However, the ban still applies to U.S. entities.

Other sanctions that remain in place include a ban on U.S. businesses and individuals from investing in the country or trading with it. This ban came as a response to a string of Iranian actions in support of terrorism and human rights abuses. The U.S. is also upset that the country hasn’t scrapped yet an advanced weapons program.

Over the weekend, Iranian forces tested a medium-range ballistic missile which went off after it traveled 550 miles. United Nations experts aren’t sure whether this Sunday’s test infringed a U.N. ban on the country’s ballistic missile arsenal.

It is the first time, Iran conducts such tests under the new presidency, but the former administration often clashed with the country over other similar tests. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Bob Corker, and an administration senior official said the U.S. had a fresh plan to sanction the country.

Corker confirmed on MSNBC there was a “coordinated effort” to sanction Iran but added that it was too premature to talk about military action. White House also said that they were considering their options but declined to say whether military sanctions were included in the plan.

“We’re in a deliberative process,”

the White House said after Corker’s comments.

The White House also urged Tehran to rethink their behavior as their latest actions represent a threat to America’s allies in the region.

The United States’ financial sanctions have been a heavy burden on Iran’s economy, experts noted. European and U.S. banks were severely punished when they helped their Iranian customers fend off the ban.

The Treasury Department has barred U.S. banks from processing Iranian payments through the country’s financial system for years. So, banks and companies now have to ensure that Iranian money does not reach a U.S. bank or one of their U.S. subsidiaries.

One expert noted that banks must now separate Iranian operations from other financial operations which is extremely difficult to do. The expert said that it is nearly impossible to isolate the country’s money from the rest of the bank’s assets.

Non-U.S. banks that violated these rules were slapped with hefty fines. Three years ago, the largest French bank, BNP Paribas, had to fork out $9 billion in penalties for helping its Cuban, Sudanese, and Iranian clients to dodge U.S. sanctions.
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