WASHINGTON – United States President Donald Trump imposed on Wednesday sanctions on Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum and copper sectors amid escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran.
The White House said those industries account for 10 percent of Iranian exports.
“Today, I am signing an executive order to impose sanctions with respect to Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum and copper sectors, the regime’s largest non-petroleum-related sources of export revenue,” Trump said in a statement.
“Today’s action targets Iran’s revenue from the export of industrial metals – 10 percent of its export economy – and puts other nations on notice that allowing Iranian steel and other metals into your ports will no longer be tolerated,” he added.
Trump, who indicated a willingness to meet with Iranian authorities, said in the executive order that Tehran could use proceeds from the sale of metals to “provide funding and support for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorist groups and networks, campaigns of regional aggression and military expansion.”
He also recalled that the US is determined to “deny Iran all paths to both a nuclear weapon and intercontinental ballistic missiles.”
The new sanctions come hours after the Iranian government announced that it is suspending some of its commitments under the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom and Germany remain parties to the pact, which the US abandoned in May 2018.
In his statement, Trump defended the decision he made one year ago.
“Under the Iran nuclear deal, Iran was free to engage in and sponsor terrorist networks, develop its missile force (and) foment regional conflicts ... all while maintaining a robust nuclear infrastructure.”
A year later, “the Iranian regime is struggling to fund its campaign of violent terror, as its economy heads into an unprecedented depression,” Trump said.
The US is “successfully imposing the most powerful maximum pressure campaign ever witnessed, which today’s action will further strengthen.”
Trump also warned that Iran “can expect further actions unless it fundamentally alters its conduct,” recalling that the US has “put forward 12 conditions that offer the basis of a comprehensive agreement” with the Islamic Republic.
“I look forward to someday meeting with the leaders of Iran in order to work out an agreement and, very importantly, taking steps to give Iran the future it deserves,” the statement said.
Tensions between the US and Iran have grown since April, when Washington opted to further squeeze Tehran by ending sanctions waivers granted to eight countries that import Iranian oil.
On Sunday, the White House said it was deploying an aircraft carrier and bomber task force to the Middle East in response to what the Pentagon described the following day as “indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and our interests.”