- The Washington Times - Monday, November 4, 2019

The Trump administration announced sanctions against 10 officials from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s inner circle on Monday, ramping up pressure against the Islamic republic on the 40th anniversary of its seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

The new sanctions seek to “block funds from flowing to a shadow network of Ali Khamenei’s military and foreign affairs advisors who have for decades oppressed the Iranian people, exported terrorism, and advanced destabilizing policies around the world,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) will enforce the new sanctions, targeting “Iran’s Armed Forces General Staff and nine individuals who are appointees of, or have acted for or on behalf of, Ali Khamenei, the Iranian regime’s unelected Supreme Leader whose office is responsible for advancing Iran’s radical agenda,” the statement said.

U.S. officials said the action, coming roughly seven months after President Trump made global headlines by designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — an elite unit of the Iranian military — as a terrorist organization.

The IRGC designation and various sanctions announcements undergird the Trump administration’s self-described “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran’s government and have drawn sharp condemnation from officials in Tehran.

The pressure campaign has accelerated since Mr. Trump last year pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran. U.S. officials say the campaign aims to push Iran into a new negotiation that goes beyond the Obama-era nuclear deal to address Iranian ballistic missile activity and Tehran’s backing of militant proxy groups around the Middle East.

The latest sanctions announcement came after the White House warned Iran to “choose peace over hostage-taking” on the 40th anniversary of militants storming the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, an act that the Iranian government commemorated on Monday by announcing that it was increasing nuclear activity in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Islamist demonstrators in Tehran also shouted “Death to America” and likened the U.S. to a “poisonous scorpion” during an event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the embassy takeover, in which more than 50 American hostages were seized and held by Iran for 444 days.

The Treasury Department, meanwhile, said the latest sanctions target appointees of Mr. Khamenei’s internal leadership offices, as well as Iran’s armed forces general staff and Judiciary.

“The Treasury Department is targeting the unelected officials who surround Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and implement his destabilizing policies,” Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said in the statement. “These individuals are linked to a wide range of malign behaviors by the regime, including bombings of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983 and the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association in 1994, as well as torture, extrajudicial killings, and repression of civilians.”

“This action further constricts the Supreme Leader’s ability to execute his agenda of terror and oppression,” Mr. Mnuchin said.

The sanctions mean U.S. officials will block those named by Treasury from access to any assets, property and interests in property they may have in the United States or in U.S. banks.

A list of those named by Treasury was published on the department’s website.

• Dave Boyer contributed to this article.

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