Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday announced new sanctions on Iran’s defense ministry as well as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for bolstering Iran’s weapons programs.
The announcement comes days after the Trump administration moved to reimpose all United Nations sanctions on Iran despite pushback from members of the U.N. Security Council and European allies.
Last month, the 15-member council rejected Washington-led efforts to extend an arms embargo on Tehran that is set to expire in October, prompting the U.S. to ignite wide-ranging U.N. sanctions on Iran that were previously lifted under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
“For nearly two years, the corrupt Iranian and Venezuelan regimes have flouted the U.N. arms embargo,” said Mr. Pompeo, who was joined by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
“The two states have continued to exchange defense delegations and have spent significant resources to develop plans, which likely have progressed to include arms sales,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Iran’s Defense Industries Organization and its director Mehrdad Akhlaghi-Ketabchi were also targeted “for having engaged, or attempted to engage, in activity that materially contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer directly or indirectly to or from Iran, or for the use in or benefit of Iran, of arms or related materiel, including spare parts.”
“No matter who you are, if you violate the U.N. arms embargo on Iran, you risk sanctions,” the secretary of state said. “Our actions today are a warning that should be heard worldwide.”
President Trump on Monday signed an executive order enforcing sanctions that were announced Saturday on more than two dozen people and entities that support Iran’s nuclear and missile activity and conventional arms transfers related to Iran. Under the order, the disputed arms embargo on Iran will be reimposed “indefinitely.”
“This executive order is critical to enforcing the U.N. arms embargo on Iran,” Mr. Trump said in a statement. “The order will greatly diminish the Iranian regime’s capacity to export arms to terrorists and dangerous actors throughout the region, as well as its ability to acquire weapons to build up its own forces.”
The Trump administration last month warned that ending it would be disastrous for the Middle East and for U.S. national security because it would give Tehran sudden access to a buffet of Chinese and Russian-made weapons previously acquirable only through nefarious channels.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, along with the bulk of the members of the council as well as several European leaders, asserts that the U.S. does not hold the power to unilaterally reimpose the U.N. sanctions after it left the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal in 2018.