WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order imposing new “hard-hitting” sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, just days after Iran downed a high-flying U.S. Navy drone over the Persian Gulf.
The sanctions, Trump said, are a response to “a series of aggressive actions,” including the drone strike.
“Everyone saw that one,” he said to reporters in the Oval Office before signing the order. “But they’ve done many other things.”
The measures aim to restrict the supreme leader’s “access to key financial resources and support,” said Trump, noting that the leader is “responsible” for Iran’s hostile conduct.
“These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions,” he said.
Trump opted not to respond militarily to the drone strike last week, canceling a planned missile strike at the last minute.
Throughout his presidency, he has shown a preference for economic warfare over authorizing military force. But experts widely view Iran’s provocation in shooting down the U.S. drone last week as a response to existing U.S. sanctions that are weakening the nation’s economy.
In his comments to reporters Monday, Trump tempered his escalation of sanctions with the rhetoric of de-escalation, reiterating that he would like to meet with Iran’s leaders to draw up a new agreement to curtail the country’s nuclear weapons program.
Trump withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear agreement between the U.S. and Iran and five other nations even though Iran was in compliance with its terms.
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