The United States has imposed new sanctions on 18 Iranian individuals and groups it accuses of backing Tehran’s ballistic missile program.
The State Department announced its sanctions Tuesday against two groups linked to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, saying they were involved in ballistic missile research and development.
It further said that Iranian activities in the Middle East “undermine regional stability, security and prosperity.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned five people and seven entities for their support of Iranian military purchases, as well as three other Iranians it says are part of an “Iran-based transnational criminal organization.”
The sanctions freeze any assets the targeted Iranians might have in the U.S. and block Americans from doing business with them.
At the United Nations in New York, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif told VOA that sanctions have “unfortunately become a bad habit” with the United States, and that the U.S. can expect reprisals from Iran.
“It will involve people who have participated in terrorism and extremism in our region as well as supporting expansionism,” Zarif said. He added that an announcement on retaliatory sanctions on the U.S. will come “in due course.”
Middle East Institute senior scholar Zubair Iqbal says the U.S. sanctions will hurt economic growth in Iran, fueling income inequality and giving the hardline conservatives in the country more reason to continue an anti-American and anti-Western attitude.
“Under these circumstances the forces that will be unleashed will likely be not particularly beneficial for the American longer-term interests,” Iqbal told VOA.
Americans held in Iran
Also Tuesday, the U.S. renewed its demand that Iran free three Americans held on what the U.S. calls “fabricated national-security related charges.” It also insisted Iran keep its promise to free former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who has been missing in Iran for more than a decade.
The U.S. announced the new sanctions just a day after it recertified Iranian compliance with the nuclear agreement it signed in 2015 with the U.S. and five other world powers.
The deal requires Iran to limit its ability to enrich uranium and take other steps to ensure it is not working to develop nuclear weapons, all in exchange for sanctions relief.
A senior Trump administration official said that while Iran is technically meeting the terms of the nuclear deal, it is “unquestionably in default of the spirit of the agreement,” adding that the U.S. is working with its allies to more strictly enforce the deal going forward.
VOA’s Margaret Besheer contributed to this report.