U.S. Imposes New Sanctions on Iran Over Missile Test

Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps during a military parade in 2014. The corps is one of 25 individuals and entities the United States has designated for sanctions. Credit Abedin Taherkenareh/European Pressphoto Agency
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Friday designated 25 individuals and entities associated “with Iran’s ballistic missile program,” including the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, for sanctions in response to the missile test last weekend, according to a senior administration official.

The sanctions targeted “multiple entities and individuals involved in procuring technology and/or materials to support Iran’s ballistic missile program, as well as for acting for or on behalf of, or providing support to, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force,” according to a Treasury Department statement.

The new sanctions are intended to focus on suppliers to the missile program and on groups that help arm terrorist organizations, and they came two days after the Trump administration put Iran “on notice” about its missile tests and its support of terrorism.

The United States is somewhat constrained in imposing new sanctions. Under the nuclear deal with Iran, the United States and the other signers — Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — cannot reimpose nuclear-related sanctions, except if there is evidence that Iran has resumed its nuclear program in violation of the accord. There has been no such evidence.

But missile sanctions, and sanctions for sponsorship of terrorism, do not violate the agreement, which was limited to nuclear activities.

Iran argues that a United Nations Security Council resolution, whose wording was negotiated in Vienna in 2015 at the same time the nuclear accord was reached, stops short of prohibiting missile tests. It simply urges Iran to refrain from such tests, if the missiles are designed to carry nuclear weapons.

Iranian officials have said that since the country has no nuclear weapons, it has no missiles designed to carry them. Outside experts note that a missile’s ability to carry a nuclear weapon depends on the design of its re-entry vehicle, which can be modified with relatively little work.
A missile that was launched in recent days, at first not reported by the Iranians but later the subject of boasts from its military, traveled about 600 miles before the final stage exploded on re-entry.
It is not yet clear what kind of ballistic missile was fired, or what kind of re-entry vehicle was atop it. But experts in the region have suggested the design may have been a version of North Korea’s medium-range Musudan missile, modified for Iranian needs. The two countries have long shared missile design technology, though usually for shorter-range missiles.

Many experts have questioned whether new sanctions would have a significant practical effect. The companies that supply missile parts rarely have direct business with the United States, and allies have usually been reluctant to reimpose sanctions, many of which were lifted as part of the nuclear accord with Iran.

But President Trump, who said on Twitter early Thursday morning that Iran was “ON NOTICE” and incorrectly said it had received $150 billion in the nuclear deal, has been eager to change the tone of dealings with Tehran. While the Obama administration often looked for reasons to avoid confrontation with Iran in its last year in office, Mr. Trump seems eager to challenge what he has said is an Iranian expansion across the region, especially in Iraq.

Iran reacted sharply to a White House announcement Wednesday that also used the “on notice” language but that left little indication about what the administration was planning. In recent days, according to officials, there has been discussion of everything ranging from new economic pressure, which Mr. Trump’s aides understand has little impact, to more aggressive patrols in the Persian Gulf, including the possible interception of arms or parts. But no decisions have been made about more aggressive steps, officials say. Source

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