United States puts new sanctions on Iran over ballistic missile program

Under the deal struck by Obama and other world leaders, Iran agreed to roll back its nuclear program - long suspected of being aimed at developing atomic weapons - in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

Sanctions also have been leveled on three networks designated as supporting Iran's military procurement and another two organizations supporting Iran's ballistic missile program.

The move came a day after the Trump administration told the Congress that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal signed two years ago with the U.S. and other world powers, and as such would continue to be exempted from American sanctions.

Citing Iran's ballistic missile development and alleged support for terrorism, the official said, "The president, the secretary of state and the entire administration judge that Iran is unquestionably in default of the spirit" of the agreement.

"It's very clear that Iran is serious about the nuclear deal and we believe the nuclear deal can lay the foundation".

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the sanctions show that the Trump administration will continue to act "aggressively" against Iran's "provocative and destabilizing behavior".

Monday night was the deadline for the U.S. to recertify Iran's compliance to Congress, something they have to do every 90 days.

The United States still has a range of non-nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, and Trump has beefed those up.

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During the campaign, President Trump told the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC): "My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran".

The officials noted that the Trump administration would seek to address Iran's aggressive behaviour in the Gulf region but could not go into detail.

The Trump administration on Monday vowed a new strategy that will "address the totality of Iran's malign behavior and not narrowly focus" exclusively on the nuclear accord - including new sanctions aimed at holding Iran responsible for its "misbehavior in the region in a bunch of fronts", according to one senior administration official who spoke to reporters on Monday night.

Many in Trump's cabinet tangled with Iran-backed militias during the USA occupation of Iraq.

And for a few hours on Monday afternoon, it looked like the White House was going to tell Congress it could not certify Iran was complying, without saying Iran was in breach of the pact. Asked again whether the administration wants to see regime change, the official said, "We're looking for a change in the regime's behavior". In meetings with his national security cabinet, the president has never been keen on Obama's nuclear deal.

Ex-Marines like Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also keenly remember Iran-backed Hezbollah's attack on the corps barracks in Lebanon in 1983.

Most of the cabinet, however, recognizes what a bad idea this is, and how big of an worldwide backlash the U.S. would face in withdrawing from the hard-negotiated nuclear deal.

Tuesday's sanctions came after the US Senate in June overwhelmingly passed legislation to strengthen sanctions against Iran for its ballistic missile testing and other non-nuclear provocations.


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