US further tightens sanctions on Iran despite tensions

Fresh sanctions are about to be introduces today, but Trump says he wants to make a deal

Photo: EPA US President Donald Trump

The United States is today due to further tighten sanctions on Iran, as relations between the two countries continue to deteriorate. Washington has previously sanctioned economically significant sectors of Iran such as oil, banks, aircraft and steel, leaving smaller targets including certain exports not restricted so far as well as government officials unaffected by previous measures.

So there’s not much left for Trump's administration to target because most of the Islamic Republic’s economy is already crippled under the weight of financial restrictions. Still, Trump could hit Iran’s central bank with secondary sanctions, even though that would come at the risk of hurting humanitarian trade. Nevertheless, for the first time, President Donald Trump indicated he was open to quickly reaching a deal with Iran that in his opinion would bolster the Islamic country’s flagging economy.

“We will call it ‘Let’s make Iran great again," Trump said on Saturday, while announcing the new round of Iranian sanctions in an apparent move to defuse tensions following the shooting down of an unmanned US drone last week by the Islamic Republic. 

He later wrote on Twitter from Camp David: “I look forward to the day that Sanctions come off Iran, and they become a productive and prosperous nation again.”

Tensions between the US and Iran have spiralled as a series of incidents in the last few weeks, including attacks on tankers and the shooting down of a US drone by Iran in the Gulf, raised fears of an unintended slide towards conflict. And even though both nations said they want to avoid going to war, they still reminded each other that military action was “always on the table”, with Iran warning of a “crushing” response if attacked.

Thus, US President Donald Trump called off a planned retaliatory military strike on Friday, saying the response would not have been "proportionate", as Iran warned any attack would see the US's interests across the Middle East go up in flames. With the strike called off, Washington secretly launched cyber-attacks against Iranian missile control systems instead as well as a spy network in response to the downed drone on Thursday.

Iran, however, said today that no cyber attack against the Islamic republic has ever succeeded.

"The media are asking about the veracity of the alleged cyber attack against Iran. No successful attack has been carried out by them, although they are making a lot of effort," Iran's telecommunications minister said on Twitter without referring to any US attack.

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