WASHINGTON – The Trump administration unveiled a new set of punitive measures against Iran on Monday, even as it faced global isolation after other major powers rejected a unilateral move by states- United to reimpose UN sanctions on Tehran.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other cabinet members announced new U.S. sanctions against Iran’s Defense Ministry and its ballistic missile program, as well as Venezuelan regime leader Nicolás Maduro, for allegedly aiding the Iran’s weapons programs.
“Our actions today are a warning that must be heard around the world. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you violate the UN arms embargo against Iran you risk sanctions, ”Pompeo said, alongside three other cabinet secretaries, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and US Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft.
As Pompeo made the announcement, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif rejected the latest sanctions in an online event that had been scheduled for the same time.
“I don’t think this is anything new. I don’t think it will have a more significant impact on Iran, ”Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, speaking from Iran, during a hearing at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The United States has exerted all the pressure it can on Iran. They had hoped that these sanctions would bring our people to their knees. No. “
The 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers lifted international sanctions against Tehran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. The deal includes a “backtracking” provision, allowing any country that signed the deal to declare Iran in violation of the deal and force the reimposition of a series of sanctions.
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President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018, but his administration maintains that the United States still has the right to force a “rollback” of UN sanctions. Britain, France and Germany said on Sunday that the United States no longer had the legal authority to force the reimposition of UN sanctions. Russia and China have also rejected Washington’s unilateral move.
“The United States certainly understands that their claims are at odds with reality,” Russia said in response to the Trump administration’s statement.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres informed the Security Council in a letter over the weekend that the United Nations will not support Washington’s decision.
“It would appear that there is uncertainty as to whether the process … has indeed been launched,” Guterres wrote in the letter obtained by NBC News, referring to the letter from the Trump administration seeking to initiate the “snapback” »UN sanctions.
“It is not for the Secretary-General to proceed as if such uncertainty does not exist,” he wrote.
Craft said the United States was not embarrassed by opposition from other countries and accused foreign governments of supporting “terrorism.”
“As we have done in the past, we will be alone to protect peace and security at all times. We don’t need an incentive section to validate our moral compass, ”Craft said.
“We do not find comfort in numbers alone, especially when the majority find themselves in an uncomfortable position to endorse terrorism, chaos and conflict,” she said. “We refuse to be members of this club. “
Craft traveled to Washington to appear at the announcement of new sanctions, skipping the UN 75th anniversary celebration, which was themed on reaffirming “a collective commitment to multilateralism.” His deputy spoke in his place during the celebration.
Tensions mounted between Iran and the United States during Trump’s tenure, culminating in a U.S. drone strike this year that killed a senior Iranian military commander, Qasem Soleimani, in Baghdad.
When asked if Iran plans to retaliate for the murder, Zarif declined to rule out a future response.
“The books are not closed. President Trump has ordered the assassination of a national hero for Iran and a hero for the region. So the books are not closed. I’m not making threats, but the book isn’t closed, “Zarif said.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander has vowed revenge for Soleimani’s death will be “decisive, serious and real,” Iranian Tasnim news agency reported on Sunday.