US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced new sanctions on Iran's Defence Ministry and other Iranian officials involved in the country's nuclear and missile programmes.
Pompeo told reporters on Monday that the US specifically slapped sanctions on two individuals who he claimed play an essential role in Iran’s uranium enrichment operations.
"Today, I will take the first action under this new executive order by sanctioning the Iranian Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces Logistics, and Iran's Defence Industries Organisation and its director”, he noted.
Separately, the secretary of state said that the new US sanctions were imposed against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro over him bolstering ties with Tehran.
“We’re also sanctioning the previous president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro. For nearly two years, corrupt officials in Tehran had worked with the illegitimate regime in Venezuela to flout the UN arms embargo”, Pompeo said.
In mid-August, Pompeo said that the UN Security Council had rejected a US resolution to extend the Iran arms embargo, noting that, despite the decision, the Trump administration will continue to do everything possible to ensure that Iran is not able to buy and sell weapons.
In June, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi indicated Tehran’s readiness to go ahead with its oil shipments to Venezuela if "Caracas demands more [such] supplies from Iran", which is practicing "its free trade rights with” the South American country. The statement was preceded in May by five Iranian tankers delivering more than a million barrels of oil to Venezuela, which was hit by a serious fuel shortage caused by US sanctions.
In a separate development on Monday, US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, for his part, announced that “The Trump administration is also imposing new sanctions and export control measures on 27 entities and individuals connected to Iran’s nuclear weapons programme".
The statement came after Pompeo announced on Saturday that all UN sanctions against Iran were "back in effect" under the “snapback” mechanism of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. The mechanism envisages an array of punitive measures if Iran violates its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was quick to declare that he cannot take any action on Pompeo’s announcement due to what he described as “uncertainty” related to the issue.
Referring to the JCPOA, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell, in turn, stressed that the US has no right to unilaterally restore international sanctions on Iran on the basis of an agreement it has withdrawn from.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, for his part, said in a televised speech on Sunday that the US is facing defeat in its recent sanctions decision against the Islamic Republic.
“America is approaching a certain defeat in its sanctions move […]. It faced defeat and negative response from the international community. We will never yield to US pressure and Iran will give a crushing response to America's bullying”, Rouhani underscored.
In May 2018, the US re-imposed crippling sanctions on Iran as part of President Donald Trump’s campaign of so-called maximum pressure on the Islamic Republic, which began after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018, a move that prompted Tehran to start suspending its JCPOA obligations exactly a year later.