US planning to target Iran drone, guided missile programs with sanctions: report

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The U.S. is reportedly planning to issue sanctions targeting Iran’s drone and guided missile programs, with officials citing potential threats to U.S. national security. 

The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the planned actions are aimed at disrupting the development of Iran’s weapons program. 

A senior U.S. official told the news outlet, “It’s part of a comprehensive approach so we’re dealing with all aspects of the Iranian threat.” 

While the U.S. has previously levied sanctions against some of Iran’s missile programs, the upcoming sanctions would specifically target groups that provide parts used to build drones and missiles and other weapons supply networks. 

The officials said that the sanctions would be separate from the Biden administration’s ongoing efforts to pressure Iran to return to compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement and to engage in talks on negotiating a new deal. 

The Treasury Department, which oversees the implementation of U.S. sanctions, declined to comment when contacted by The Hill. 

The Journal reported last week that the Biden administration was eyeing new sanctions on Iran’s oil sales to China if talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal fail.

The potential oil sanctions would specifically target the shipping network that includes 1 million barrels of oil a day, a significant revenue source for Iran, according to U.S. officials.  

Talks on a recommitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which the U.S. withdrew from under former President Trump, have largely stalled since the presidential election of Iranian hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi. 

Raisi has said that he will not engage in a new nuclear deal unless the U.S. first removes its sanctions against its nuclear program. 

However, the U.S. has repeatedly refused to do so until Iran draws back on its uranium enrichment and other developments in violation of the 2015 deal. 

A sixth round of nuclear discussions ended in June without a new agreement, shortly before Raisi’s election. 

Iran’s outgoing president, Hassan Rouhani, said earlier this month that while his country was committed to negotiating the fractured 2015 agreement, Iran had the capability to reach the 90 percent uranium enrichment level needed to manufacture nuclear weapons. 

The Obama-era original nuclear deal limited Tehran’s program to enriching uranium only up to 3.67 percent, but since Trump left the agreement in 2018, the country raised its level of enrichment to 60 percent. 

Rouhani at the time also criticized top officials in his own government, whom he accused of “not allowing” a reinstatement of the deal. 

“They took away the opportunity to reach an agreement from this government,” he said in a Cabinet meeting. “We deeply regret missing this opportunity.” 

Tags 2015 nuclear deal Donald Trump Iran Iran drone attacks Iran nuclear program Missiles Treasury Department Wall Street Journal
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