The Trump administration on Monday offered a reward of up to $20 million for information about Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who disappeared in Iran in 2007, and imposed new sanctions on leading Iranian officials as relations deteriorated further on the 40th anniversary of the US Embassy takeover.
The reward for help solving the Levinson disappearance and the sanctions also come as Iran said it was doubling the number of advanced centrifuges it operates to produce nuclear fuel, trimming the time experts believe that the Islamic Republic would need to have enough material to build a nuclear weapon.
The State Department claims Levinson was taken hostage in Iran with the involvement of the Iranian regime. The Iranian government has never acknowledged arresting him.
Combined with a $5 million reward already in place from the FBI, this makes a total of $25 million available to the person or persons providing information about Levinson.
“This is the 40th anniversary of the day in 1979 when 52 Americans were taken hostage and held for 444 days,” Levinson’s family said in a statement released after the new reward was announced.
“Bob Levinson has been held more than 10 times longer - for 4,624 days. Bob Levinson must come home, and Iran’s hostage-taking as government policy must end.”
The senior officials used the anniversary to call on Tehran to release all missing and wrongfully detained Americans, including Levinson, Xiyue Wang, Siamak Namazi and others.
The Treasury Department said it took action against nine individuals to block funds from flowing to a shadow network of Khamenei’s military and foreign affairs advisers who are suspected of oppressing the Iranian people and supporting militants.
The sanctions target individuals in Khamenei’s office, the armed forces and the judiciary. Two of them have been linked to the 1983 US Marine barrack bombing in Beirut that killed 241 US personnel and the 1994 bombing of Argentine Israelite Mutual Association.