US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on 24 June that imposed 'hard-hitting' new sanctions against Iran. They target the country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, whom Trump called responsible for "the hostile conduct of the regime", and "those closely affiliated with him" in a bid to cut their access to "key financial resources and support". The sanctions also were slapped on eight senior commanders in Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.
"We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran until the regime abandons its dangerous activities and its aspirations, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons, increased enrichment of uranium, development of ballistic missiles, engagement and support for terrorism, fuelling of foreign conflicts and belligerent acts directed against the United States and its allies", Trump told reporters.
While Trump at first said that new sanctions come in response to the US drone's downing, he later noted that these sanctions would be imposed regardless of that incident. The US president further noted that he continues to hope to strike a new deal with Iran one day, which will result in the lifting of all sanctions.
"We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country, I look forward to the day when sanctions can be finally lifted and Iran can become a peaceful, prosperous and productive nation", Trump said.
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that more sanctions will come later this week, specifically targeting Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and freezing Tehran's access to billions of dollars in various assets.
Zarif stated regarding the new US sanctions that Washington's actions indicate that the so-called B-Team, a group of strong "hawks" in Trump's administration, seeks not negtiations with Iran, but armed conflict.
"Donald Trump is 100% right that the US military has no business in the Persian Gulf. Removal of its forces is fully in line with interests of US and the world. But it's now clear that the B-Team is not concerned with US interests—they despise diplomacy, and thirst for war", he said in his tweet.
Meanwhile, Iran's ambassador to the United Nations said that Tehran will not accept dialogue wih United States while it is under threat of sanctions.
Teasing new sanctions on 22 June, Trump dubbed his plan for economic pressure on Tehran "Let's make Iran great again", claiming that once the country inks a new deal with Washington, either bilateral or multilateral, it will become a "productive and prosperous nation".
Tensions between the two countries have escalated recently, after Tehran downed an American drone flying over Strait of Hormuz. Iran stated that the drone had violated the country's airspace and failed to respond to multiple warnings. Tehran further stated that the accompanying P-8 Poseidon spy plane had also violated its airspace, but that it chose not to shoot down the manned aircraft.
The US insists that the drone was flying above neutral international waters when it was destroyed. Washington planned to retaliate after the incident by targeting Iran with airstrikes, but the attack was stopped by President Trump minutes prior to launch, citing the potential for a high number of casualties.