US sanctions five Iranians over missile support to Houthis

US sanctions five Iranians over missile support to Houthis
© Greg Nash

The U.S. hit five Iranian nationals with sanctions on Thursday for their roles in an alleged plan by Tehran to supply Houthi rebels in Yemen with ballistic missiles.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that it had sanctioned the individuals, who either helped transfer missiles to the Houthis or provided "ballistic missile-related technical expertise" on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force.

The sanctions target Mahmud Bagheri Kazemabad, Mohammad Agha Ja’fari, Javad Bordbar Shir Amin and Mehdi Azarpisheh. The Treasury Department accused those four of assisting the Houthis through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

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The Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on Sayyed Mohammad Ali Haddadnezhad Tehrani for allegedly helping to finance the Revolutionary Guard.

"Their actions have enabled the Huthis to launch missiles at Saudi cities and oil infrastructure," Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinBen Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment White House, Congress inch toward debt, budget deal MORE said in a statement. "They have also disrupted humanitarian aid efforts in Yemen, and threatened freedom of navigation in key regional waterways."

"The United States will not tolerate Iranian support for Huthi rebels who are attacking our close partner, Saudi Arabia. All countries in the region should be on guard to prevent Iran from sending its personnel, weapons, and funds in support of its proxies in Yemen.”

The Houthis are fighting a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen's years-long civil war. The rebel group has fired a number of ballistic missiles into neighboring Saudi Arabia in recent months. Riyadh and the U.S. have accused Iran of supplying the Houthis with those missiles.

The U.S. has provided logistical support and intelligence to the Saudi-led coalition conducting strikes in Yemen since the campaign began in 2015.

The sanctions imposed on Tuesday were the latest in a series of penalties targeting Tehran and its allies in the wake of President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE's decision to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. 

In an address at the conservative Heritage Foundation on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined a set of sweeping demands for Tehran, ranging from completely abandoning its nuclear pursuits to withdrawing from its involvement in the Syrian civil war.