The US has imposed sweeping new sanctions on anyone who trades with Iran in iron, steel, copper, aluminum and related products, escalating the economic blockade of Tehran as the nuclear deal continues to unravel.
An executive order signed by US President Donald Trump on Wednesday says the property of anyone who owns or operates or engages in “significant” transactions with Iran’s metals sector will be seized by the US under sanctions laws. Likewise, anyone accused of materially assisting, sponsoring or supporting anyone who is sanctioned will have their property blocked as well.
The blocked property “may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in,” says the executive order. The sanctions apply to property inside the US, or in possession or control of any US person.
The Treasury Department announced it would allow a 90-day “wind-down” period for any transactions related to Iran’s metal sector.
The new sanctions are part of the continuing US policy to “deny Iran all paths to both a nuclear weapon and intercontinental ballistic missiles, and to counter the totality of Iran’s malign influence in the Middle East,” it said, adding that revenues from the metals trade could be used to “provide funding and support for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorist groups and networks, campaigns of regional aggression, and military expansion.”
Metals are said to represent about 10 percent of Iran’s exports.
Trump’s latest move comes exactly a year after he unilaterally withdraw the US from the JCPOA nuclear agreement, negotiated by his predecessor in 2015 to limit Iran’s ability to develop atomic weapons. Tehran has consistently claimed its nuclear program was peaceful, but Israel has disagreed and actively campaigned against the deal.
Earlier on Wednesday, Iran announced it would no longer sell excess uranium and heavy water as provided under the JCPOA, citing last week’s decision by the US to end sanction waivers on these transactions. Tehran officially remains party to the JCPOA, but has grown increasingly frustrated by the lack of practical steps from Europe to offset US sanctions.