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US broadens sanctions on Iran officials, economy

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo (C) speaks beside NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg (R) during the ministerial meeting of Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh, at the State Department in Washington, DC, United States on November 14, 2019 [Fatih Aktaş/Anadolu Agency]

The US on Friday ratcheted up sanctions on Iran to include its manufacturing and construction sectors on a week that tensions between the two countries drew closer to a direct military confrontation, Anadolu Agency reports.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also announced new sanctions on eight Iranian officials who they said were directly involved in Iran’s ballistic missile strikes on Iraqi bases hosting US troops on Wednesday.

“We’re striking at the heart of the Islamic Republic’s inner security apparatus,” said Pompeo. “The goal of our campaign is to deny the regime the resources to conduct its destructive foreign policy. We want Iran to simply behave like a normal nation.”

Using his executive powers, US President Donald Trump has slapped sanctions on owners and operators of Iranian economy construction, textiles, manufacturing and mining sectors, Mnuchin told reporters in Washington.

READ: Iran commander warns of ‘harsher revenge’, Iraq’s PMF vows retaliation against US

Mnuchin also described 17 specific sanctions on Iran’s main steel and iron firms, three Seychelles-based entities and a transport ship that he said would effectively “cut off billions of dollars of support to the Iranian regime.”

Targeted sanctions on eight senior Iranian officials would include the secretary of the Supreme National Council and the commander of Iran’s Basij paramilitary forces and others close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Pompeo, without naming the individuals.

“They’ve carried out his terrorist plots and destabilising campaigns across the Middle East and around the world,” Pompeo told reporters.

“They’ve employed soldiers across the region’s battlefields. They’ve trained militias in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere in the arts of domestic repression. Today, they’re accountable for murder and mayhem.”

The sanctions came in a week that has seen long-term foes Iran and the US draw ever-closer to a direct military confrontation than at any time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution saw Iranians jettison their US-aligned Shah.

On Wednesday, Iran fired ballistic missiles at two US military bases in Iraq in retaliation for a US drone strike at a Baghdad airport that killed the revered Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.

READ: US House votes to rein in Trump’s war powers as US-Iran tensions stay high

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