US President Donald Trump has approved new sanctions on Iran in his final weeks in office. Washington hopes to increase the pressure on Tehran by targeting the nation’s steel sector.
“Twelve Iranian producers of steel and other metals products” were placed on a new blacklisted entities list, according to the US Treasury website. This includes the Pasargad Steel Complex and the Gilan Steel Complex Company, both of which produce millions of tons of steel billets per year.
On top of that, a Chinese carbon supplier to Iran, Kaifeng Pingmei New Carbon Materials Technology, is also embroiled in the new round of US restrictions “for operating in the steel sector of Iran.”
The Treasury claimed the Iranian metals sector came into its crosshairs, given that it’s “an important revenue source for the Iranian regime, generating wealth for its corrupt leaders and financing a range of nefarious activities.” As is customary, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did not mince words either, calling Iran an “oppressive regime” and alleging that it continues “to sponsor terrorist groups.”
The news comes after Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei announced the nation had resumed enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity. This prompted the US state department to accuse Tehran of pursuing a “campaign of nuclear extortion.”
The enrichment indeed goes against the terms of a 2015 deal, known as JCPOA, which put restrictions on the Iranian nuclear industry in exchange for relief from sanctions and other benefits. The US unilaterally quit the accord in 2018, despite other parties of the treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency confirming Tehran had been adhering to its obligations. Since then, Iran has been gradually stepping up enrichment of uranium, but stressed it has been doing so for civic purposes only.
As relations between Iran and the US grow worse by the day, Tehran on Tuesday requested Interpol to issue a so-called ‘Red Notice’ for Donald Trump and 47 US officials. Iran cited their “role” in the killing of its top commander and chief of the elite Quds force, Qassem Soleimani, in an American drone strike in January last year.
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