- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Trump administration is weighing new sanctions against Iran if it interferes with civilian protests, a top adviser to President Trump said Tuesday.

“Yes that’s right,” presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News.

She said Mr. Trump “stands with the Iranian people,” adding that “he doesn’t want to remain silent the way too many people were silent in 2009,” a swipe at former President Barack Obama.

The possible new sanctions would be imposed for human-rights violations and could target the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Wall Street Journal first reported. At least 20 people have been killed in protests that began last week over worsening economic conditions in Iran.

“The world needs to see what’s happening in Iran right now,” Mrs. Conway said on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday. “That’s what freedom looks like.”

Mr. Trump said in a tweet Tuesday that Iranians “are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime,” and he criticized Mr. Obama for lifting economic sanctions in 2015 as part of an international nuclear accord with Tehran that gave the Iranian regime about $1.7 billion in cash.

“All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets,’” Mr. Trump tweeted. “The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!”

The sanctions threat also comes with Mr. Trump facing a congressional deadline this month on whether to certify that Iran is meeting the terms of a nuclear agreement with the U.S. and other nations. The president declined to re-certify the deal in October, but didn’t ask Congress to impose new sanctions.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s blaming of Israel for fomenting the protests is “not only false, it’s laughable.”

“The Iranian people are smart,” Mr. Netanyahu said in the video. “They are sophisticated. They are proud. Today, they risk everything for freedom.”

Mr. Netanyahu overruled some of his most senior security advisers in expressing support for Iranian protesters, The Times of Israel reported. The paper, citing a source close to the prime minister, said he wanted to support the Iranian public in its struggle and felt it was important that he remain closely aligned with the Trump administration.

Some of his security advisers argued that official Israeli support could harm the protesters’ cause in Iran.

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