Pompeo says US imposes sanctions on Iran’s defense ministry, Maduro

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The Trump administration on Monday announced new sanctions against Iran’s defense ministry and others involved in Tehran’s nuclear and weapons program to support US assertion that all UN sanctions against Tehran are now restored, a move key allies such as the Europeans dispute.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, flanked by other top members of President Donald Trump’s national security team, also told reporters Washington had imposed new sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has forged closer ties between Caracas and Tehran.

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“For nearly two years corrupt officials in Tehran have worked with the illegitimate regime in Venezuela to flout the UN arms embargo,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.

“Our actions today are a warning that should be heard worldwide.”

Pompeo said that President Donald Trump has issued an executive order “that is a new and powerful tool to enforce the UN arms embargo.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, appearing with Pompeo, also announced separate sanctions on the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

The Trump administration argues that it is enforcing a UN arms embargo that Iran has violated, including through an attack on Saudi oil facilities.

But it is using a UN resolution that blessed a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran negotiated by former president Barack Obama.

Trump pulled out of the resolution with fanfare in 2018 but argues that the United States is still a “participant” in the accord as it was listed in the 2015 resolution.

The legal argument has been rejected by virtually all nations on the UN Security Council, including US allies.

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