In a parting shot, Iran imposed sanctions on US President Donald Trump on the eve of the January 20 transfer of the American presidency to Joe Biden.
Trump and a number of members of his administration—including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as former national security advisor to Trump, John Bolton, and ex-US special representative for Iran, Brian Hook—were sanctioned for their alleged role in support of “terrorism”, according to Iran’s foreign ministry. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, CIA chief Gina Haspel and six other ranking US officials were also among those targeted with sanctions. But the foreign ministry did not specify what kind of sanctions were imposed and the move will almost certainly not extend beyond symbolic status, given that it is unlikely any of the sanctioned individuals have assets in Iran.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh simply said the sanctions were based on Iranian law. He said they were the result of the Trump administration’s role in assassinating top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani with a Baghdad drone strike in 2020 and American support for Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians.
He also cited an alleged US role in the killing of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in December and the alleged participation of Washington in the “criminal war” in Yemen.
In December, Iran imposed sanctions on the US ambassador in Yemen for his alleged role in support of air strikes conducted by the Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels.
The crushing sanctions directed at Iran by Trump since 2018 are often described by Iranian officials as amounting to an “economic war” that has even denied Iranians humanitarian goods on many occasions.
Biden has offered Iran the prospect of the sanctions being removed should Tehran agree to return to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal drawn up to keep the Iranian nuclear development programme entirely civilian in return for a sanctions shield. Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the deal in May 2018.
The US sanctions against Iran still in effect include sanctions aimed at Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Iraninan Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh.
Iran’s newly announced sanctions also apply to former Pentagon chief Mark Esper, US Defence Secretary Christopher Miller, Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela Elliot Abrams and Andrea Gatzki from the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
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