US expected to impose fresh sanctions on Iran

The warning was an early manifestation of Trump’s promise of a tougher American approach to Iran

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The United States is expected to impose sanctions on multiple Iranian entities as early as Friday following Tehran’s recent ballistic missile test, but in a way that will not violate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

One source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said about eight Iranian entities were to be sanctioned, or “designated” in US legal jargon, for terrorism-related activities and about 17 for ballistic missile-related activities under separate existing US executive orders. The source declined to name the entities.

Trump puts Iran ‘on notice’ after missile test

Earlier, President Donald Trump said his administration has put Iran “on notice,” echoing comments from his top national security adviser that the US will act against Iran unless it stops testing ballistic missiles and supporting Houthi militia in Yemen.

Trump and his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, didn’t elaborate on what retaliatory actions the US could pursue.

Trump tweeted, “Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the US made with them!”

He added in another tweet: “Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the US came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion.”

As part of the nuclear deal struck during the Obama administration, Iran received access to an estimated $100 billion of its own money that had been frozen in foreign bank accounts. The US did not give Iran $150 billion.

Flynn on Wednesday forcefully denounced Iran’s behavior in his first public remarks since Trump took office. He accused Iran of threatening US allies and spreading instability throughout the Middle East while faulting the Obama administration for doing too little to stop the Islamic Republic.

“As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” Flynn said from the White House podium.

On notice for what, Flynn didn’t say. Senior Trump administration officials said they were actively considering a “range of options” including economic measures and increased support for Iran’s regional adversaries. The officials, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, declined repeatedly to say whether military action is being considered.

Iran’s acting commander of the elite Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Hossein Salami, responded in comments to the semi-official Tasnim news agency Thursday, saying Iran will “never change direction by a world power’s demand, and our missile and nonmissile power will be updated every day.”

Salami added, “If our missile power was not such a power to put fear into the hearts of Americans, there is no reason for these controversies.”

The warning was an early manifestation of Trump’s promise of a tougher American approach to Iran. Yet administration officials emphasized that their allegations were unrelated to Iran’s obligations under the Iran nuclear deal that President Barack Obama and world leaders negotiated. Though Flynn noted Trump has criticized that deal, officials declined to say whether Trump planned to follow through on his campaign pledge to renegotiate it.

“The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions - including weapons transfers, support for terrorism and other violations of international norms,” Flynn said.

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