Trump says upcoming sanctions on Iran ‘tougher than ever before‘

NEW YORK – US President Donald Trump warned Iran that his administration will soon go beyond previous sanctions regimes by imposing the “toughest” financial penalties ever designed.

Chairing a session in New York on Wednesday of the UN Security Council on nonproliferation, the president continued his rhetorical broadside against the Islamic Republic for a second day, after dressing down Tehran the day before in a speech to the General Assembly.

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“The Iranian regime exports violence, terror and turmoil. It illicitly procures sensitive items to advance its ballistic missile program,” Trump said, calling on international partners to pressure Iran to end its missile work. The president once again criticized a nuclear deal with Iran endorsed by the council three years ago, saying a “horrible, one-sided deal allowed Iran to continue its path to a bomb and gave Iran a financial lifeline when they needed it the most.” Netanyahu before UN meeting: Israel will continue operations in Syria against Iran, September 26, 2018 (GPO)

Trump withdrew the US from the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, back in May, freeing his administration to reimpose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran that had been lifted by the deal. Those sanctions were once considered the toughest of their kind and targeted Iran’s oil and gas sector, its access to the dollar, to automobiles and aviation parts and its ability to conduct foreign transactions.

But Trump said his team is preparing additional sanctions on top of those.

“The United States will pursue additional sanctions tougher than ever before to counter the full range of Iran’s malign conduct,” he told the council, warning companies of “severe consequences” if they fail to comply.

Other permanent Security Council members – France, Britain, Russia and China – criticized the administration for pulling out of the agreement and seeking to reimpose sanctions on their companies conducting business in Iran, which had been previously encouraged by the agreement.

The 2015 deal traded sanctions relief for Iran in exchange for caps on Iran’s nuclear work to fade out over time. Trump criticized the deal for failing to permanently end Iran’s nuclear ambitions and for providing Iran with money at a critical time.

“They needed cash,” he said. “We gave it to them.”

The president’s national security team has focused its attention on Iran in recent days, offering speeches and publishing explanatory papers on Iran’s “destructive activities” to coincide with UN week in New York.

Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, responded in several media interviews and in his own General Assembly speech with derision, characterizing the US under Trump as “authoritarian,” and with a “Nazi disposition.”

He questioned why Trump would request a meeting with him while, in his words, seeking to overthrow him at the same time. The Trump administration denies it is working toward regime change in Tehran.

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