US Treasury sanctions Iranian petrochemical companies linked to IRGC; US responds to Zarif’s recent threats; Reports claim Trump Administration may sanction institute working with EU’s INSTEX trade mechanism; US State Department: Making threats, using nuclear blackmail, and terrorizing other nations is typical behavior for the revolutionary regime in Tehran.
During a press briefing at the US State Department on Monday, spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus addressed Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s most recent and daily threats on the United States, as well as new efforts by the Trump Administration targeting Iran’s nuclear program.
Ortagus affirmed the United States and its allies ongoing “objective of denying Iran the ability to ever acquire a nuclear weapon” as diplomats and officials from Germany and France met with their Iranian counterparts in Tehran on Monday. Addressing the recent aggression from Iran, she stated “Iran has threatened to violate some of the JCPOA’s [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, nuclear deal] key restrictions and… Zarif threatened the US that it cannot expect to stay safe because of our maximum pressure campaign. Making threats, using nuclear blackmail, and terrorizing other nations is typical behavior for the revolutionary regime in Tehran.”
She added, “Tomorrow they will probably threaten once again to close the Strait of Hormuz. We aren’t impressed. Iran faces a simple choice. It can either behave like a normal nation or watch its economy crumble. Iran’s recent threat to cease performing key nuclear commitments under the JCPOA is a big step in the wrong direction and it underscores the continuing challenge Iran poses to international peace and security.”
Ortagus confirmed the Trump Administration’s decision to place sanctions on companies in “Iran’s petrochemicals sector or elsewhere that provides financial support” to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The US Department of Treasury on Friday announced it would target Iran’s largest petrochemical holding group, the Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company, as well as 39 subsidiary petrochemical companies.
The US State Department called on the international community to “remain united on this issue and hold the Iranian regime accountable for its threats to expand its nuclear program,” reiterating that the United States will continue to hold the Islamic Republic of Iran “accountable for any actions against our people and our interests, regardless of whether they come from Iran or from its proxies.”
The Trump Administration is weighing options for additional sanctions, this time targeting Iran’s Special Trade and Finance Institute which was established to bypass US sanctions through the EU’s INSTEX mechanism, which Germany on Monday confirmed is ready to launch. The institutions were set up as a means to allow ‘humanitarian” trade between Europe and Iran without the use of dollars, bypassing President Trump’s sanctions. INSTEX could be abused by Iran to bypass some of the restrictions from sanctions targeting its nuclear and missile programs.
Iran has set a deadline for July 7 for the European Union to come up with a solution to its economic crisis. It has spent the last month violating the nuclear deal and threatening to abandon it, while simultaneously building up its forces and presence in the region.
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