The latest batch of sanctions on 18 Iranian banks will further deprive Tehran the ability to support terrorist activities and “nuclear extortion that threatens the world,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday.
“Our maximum economic pressure campaign will continue until Iran is willing to conclude a comprehensive negotiation that addresses the regime’s malign behavior,” Pompeo said.
Sanctions were placed by the US Department of Treasury on 16 Iranian banks for their role in the country’s financial sector, one bank for being owned or controlled by another sanctioned Iranian bank and one military-affiliated bank, the Treasury Department said.
Some of them had been covered by previous designations but Thursday’s move places them all under the same authority covering Iran’s entire financial sector.
Pompeo said that Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei used funding meant for the Iranian people and the response to the coronavirus pandemic, to increase funding for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and “doubled the funding for the regime’s Basij forces that terrorize the Iranian people every single day.”
Despite criticism that the sanctions will impact humanitarian needs, including medicine and food, Pompeo, like US officials earlier Thursday, reiterated that Washington continued to stand with the Iranian people. “Today’s actions pursuant to E.O. 13902 do not affect existing authorizations and exceptions for humanitarian exports to Iran, which remain in full force and effect,” the US diplomat said.
He added: “We are committed to continuing the Iranian people’s access to humanitarian goods and other essential goods and services, and we reaffirm the United States’ offer to assist Iran in its response efforts to the COVID-19 outbreak.”