REVIEW - US Unveils Sanctions Targeting Iranian Scientists, Violators Of Arms Embargo

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 22nd September, 2020) US President Donald Trump on Monday signed an order greenlighting severe economic penalties on foreign nations, corporations and individuals that violate the UN arms embargo on Tehran, while the Treasury Department sanctioned Iranians tied to the country's nuclear program.

The United States revealed that it would enforce the reinstatement of international anti-Iranian sanctions, despite no backing for it at the United Nations Security Council. It also announced more than two dozen fresh designations over Iran's nuclear and ballistic projects as well as its conventional weapons trade.

"The Executive Order I am issuing today blocks the property, and interests in property, in the United States of those who contribute to the supply, sale, or transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran, as well as those who provide technical training, financial support and services, and other assistance related to these arms," US President Donald Trump said in a statement. "This Executive Order is critical to enforcing the UN arms embargo on Iran."

US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said Trump's order prevents the export of conventional arms to "rogue regimes" by Iran and bans the export of weapons by arms-producing nations to Tehran "where Iran will in turn provide them to terrorists and to rogue regimes."

The international conventional arms embargo is set to expire next month after the UNSC rejected a US proposal to prolong it. Now the US considers it in place indefinitely after it initiated the snapback sanctions mechanism of the Iranian nuclear agreement. Other key council members, including Russia and European nations, rejected the move, claiming that the Americans lost legal rights for it after they left the deal with Iran.

"I always knew that an elephant is a symbol of the [Trump's] Republican Party but please do not consider the world as a china store," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, reacting to the US unilateral moves in an interview to Al Arabiya broadcaster.

The Trump administration also announced on Monday new sanctions and export control measures on 27 entities and individuals connected to "Iran's proliferation networks," among them nuclear scientists, a logistic branch of the Iranian military and Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro.

"Our actions include... designation by the Department of State of Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL), Iran's Defense Industries Organization (DIO) and its Director, Mehrdad Akhlaghi-Ketabchi, as well as Nicolas Maduro, the illegitimate dictator of Venezuela, for conventional arms-related activities pursuant to the new Iran Conventional Arms Executive Order," the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

Over Iran's nuclear project Departments of State and Treasury designated six individuals and three entities associated with the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, including two "who were re-listed by the UN sanctions that returned on September 19, 2020." Another five individuals affiliated with the AEOI will be subject to the Commerce Department's export control restrictions.

Three individuals and four entities with ties to Iran's liquid propellant ballistic missile organization, the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, were designated in connection with alleged missile proliferation activities.

Pompeo warned that sanctions will stay and get tougher until Iran changes its behavior and embarks on negotiations to resolve all issues of concern.

"We will continue and expand our sanctions until Iran is willing to conclude a comprehensive negotiation that addresses the regime's malign behavior. We are always open to diplomacy with Iran, but Iran must respond with diplomacy, not with more violence, bloodshed, and nuclear extortion. Until then, maximum pressure will continue," he said.

O'Brien confirmed that the US seeks a "grand deal" with the country. Pentagon chief Mark Esper said that in the meantime American forces stand ready to respond to any "future Iran's aggression" and defend its allies.