Pompeo announces sanctions against Iran’s defense ministry, Venezuela’s Maduro

Pompeo announces sanctions against Iran's defense ministry, Venezuela's Maduro
UPI

Sept. 21 (UPI) — The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday new sanctions against Iran’s defense ministry and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro for supporting Iran’s missile programs.

Pompeo said during a press conference that he would sanction Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics, along with Iran’s Defense Industries Organization and its director.

He said that the U.S. administration is also sanctioning Venezuela’s former president Maduro for working with the Iranian regime for nearly two years to “flout the U.N. arms embargo.”

President Donald Trump’s executive order announced Monday gives the administration a “new and powerful tool to enforce the U.N. arms embargo and hold those who seek to evade U.N. sanctions accountable,” Pompeo added.

“Our actions today are a warning that should be heard worldwide,” Pompeo said. “No matter who you are, if you violate the U.N. arms embargo on Iran, you risk sanctions.”

Pompeo also announced sanctions Monday on Hamid Reza Ghadirian, who is a group director in the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, and Ahmad Asghari Shivai, head of the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company, under existing U.S. authority targeting proliferators of weapons of mass destruction.

“These individuals are central to Iran’s uranium enrichment operations,” he said.

Pompeo added that the sanctions were part of a “maximum pressure campaign” announced in 2018 under Trump’s leadership.

Then, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the department’s sanctions against entities that support Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, including individuals affiliated with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, which has operational and regulatory control over the nuclear program.

The Treasury department sanctioned three deputy directors of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran on Monday, along with three entities subordinate to the same organization that are active components of Iran’s nuclear program, Mnuchin said.

The Treasury also sanctioned several key producers and suppliers of goods for Iran’s nuclear missile programs. Among those designated, were Mammut Industries and Mammut Diesel, along with several shareholders and senior officials of those companies.

In particular, Mnuchin also pointed out sanctions against Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, Iran’s primary developer of liquid propelled missiles.

Among other entities sanctioned was the Shahid Haj Ali Movahed Research Center, which has played a key role in Iranian-North Korean missile cooperation, according to a statement.

“This administration will use every tool at our disposal to stop Iran’s nuclear ballistic, missile and conventional weapons pursuit, which it uses directly to threaten and terrorize the rest of the world,” Mnuchin said.

Along with the Treasury sanctions, the Department of Commerce announced that it would add five scientists in Iran’s nuclear weapons development program to its entity list.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that the sanctions were another important step toward peace after Trump signed the Abraham Accords last week to normalize relations between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority leadership has condemned the U.S. brokered deal, with Palestinian leadership saying in a statement it “destroys the Arab peace initiative.”

The Treasury department also said in a statement that it re-imposed U.N. sanctions on Ghannadi Maragheh and Karimi Sabet lifted in January 2016 under a “snapback,” provision. However, other Security Council members have said that Washington does not have authority to execute the “snapback” mechanism since it pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018, which Trump called “defective at its core.”

The U.N. arms embargo is set to end in October under the 2015 nuclear deal, which lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on Iran’s nuclear program through 2025. U.S. officials have said that they can unilaterally reimpose sanctions through a “snapback” mechanism.

On Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani vowed in a televised address to respond to the United States unilateral move to reinstate U.N. sanctions against Tehran.

“If the U.S. wants to engage in bullying, it will face Iran’s rigid response,” state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

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