Making good on his Saturday tweet threat that “we are putting major additional Sanctions on Iran on Monday”, President Trump said on Monday that he’s imposing sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his office, a step “designed to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic.”
And just like that the Ayatollah’s JPMorgan Chase savings account and his Costco discount card are in grave jeopardy.
Speaking to reporters at the White House on Monday, Trump said that the sanctions would deny Khamenei access to financial resources, although it wasn’t immediately clear why anyone believes the 80-year-old Iranian supreme leader was stupid enough to have any exposure to the Western financial system (in retrospect he will prove to be far smarter than most).
“The supreme leader of Iran is the one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime,” Trump said, after abruptly canceling planned air strikes against the Iran for shooting down a $200MM US Navy drone on Thursday.
The sanctions represent “a strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions” and the US will “continue to increase” pressure on Tehran, Trump added, saying that the fresh sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident with the downed drone.
Trump said he’s imposing sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that would deny access to financial resources pic.twitter.com/FwLX50S3MC
— TicToc by Bloomberg (@tictoc) June 24, 2019
The administration also blames Iran for recent attacks on two oil tankers near the Persian Gulf, though Iran denies it.
“Who knows what is going to happen?” Trump said. “I can only tell you we cannot let Iran ever have a nuclear weapon.”
Steve Mnuchin chimed in that Trump’s executive order will lock up “billions of dollars more” in Iranian assets. Mnuchin also promised that Iranian Foreign Secretary Javad Zarif will be hit with sanctions later in the week, adding that the US has not consulted with its allies on the specifics of the planned measures.
The problem, as observed by Mike Pompeo, is that the US already has sanctioned virtually all, or more than 80% of Iran’s economy. He was en route to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to rally a front against Iran. Speaking to Bloomberg, Brian O’Toole, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who previously worked in the U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctions unit, called the sanctions “purely symbolic.”
“It will have an effect because it will annoy the Iranians and make negotiations hard to pull off if the supreme leader is sanctioned,” O’Toole.
Of course, a “symbolic”, meaningless sanction is preferable to the global proxy war involving the US, Russia and China that would have erupted had Trump’s neocon advisors gotten their way and launched a military offensive against Tehran. Which is why we are confident the Ayatollah will take one for the non-deep state team.