Iran on February 4 responded to US President Donald Trump’s fresh sanctions against Tehran with sanctions of its own directed at American interests and additional missile tests carried out as part of an annual military exercise.
The US Treasury Department on February 3 imposed sanctions on Iran after Trump warned Tehran it was “playing with fire” in the wake of its test-firing of a medium-range ballistic missile on January 29. It listed measures undertaken against 13 individuals and 12 entities - although sanctions experts were largely agreed they amounted to little more than a shot across the bow rather than anything major.
Nevertheless, in response Iran said it “will take action against a number of American individuals and companies that have played a role in generating and supporting extremist terrorist groups in the region or have helped in the killing and suppression of defenceless people in the region,” according to an Iranian Foreign Ministry statement published by the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency. The targets of its sanctions would be named later, it said.
The annual military drill, held in Semnan province, tested domestically-made missile systems, radars, command and control centres and cyber warfare systems.
Tehran and Washington are at odds over whether the test-firing of the missile breached United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 introduced in relation to the 2015 nuclear deal that relieved sanctions against Iran in return for the country dismantling much of a programme that could have led it to producing a nuclear weapon. The Iranian government contends that there was no breach because the missile concerned is not designed to carry a nuclear payload.
Washington, which under Trump is taking a far more abrasive stance towards Iran given the military support the Americans say the Iranians are lending to favoured groups in Syria, Iraq and Syria, said there should be no ballistic missile testing fullstop.
The renewed brinkmanship between the US and Iran may unnerve many of the big Western investors, including America’s Boeing, who have poured into sanctions-free-era Iran pursuing lucrative deals since the nuclear deal took effect in January last year. Total, Shell, Siemens, Lukoil, BASF and Daewoo Engineering and Construction are other major foreign names looking to push forward investments in the Islamic republic.
The Iranian foreign ministry said the sanctions imposed under Trump were inconsistent with the spirit of the UN resolution and the nuclear deal.
The announced US sanctions affect nationals from Iran, Bosnia, St Kitts & Nevis, China and Lebanon.
Companies sanctioned include Qingdao-based Cosailing Business Trading Company Ltd., Jiangbao-based Ningbo New Century Imports and Export Company, Tehran-based East Star Company and Beirut-based Maher Trading and Construction Company.
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