Trump administration hits Iran with new economic sanctions

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration announced new sanctions on Iran Friday, the latest move in a series of actions that reflect escalating tensions in the past week that nearly brought the two nations to the brink of war.

The new sanctions are designed to “stop the Iranian regime’s global terrorist activities,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said of penalties he said affects industries including construction, manufacturing, textiles, mining, steel and iron.

Other sanctions target eight senior Iranian officials whom the administration said were involved in this week’s ballistic missile strikes against bases in Iraq that house U.S. and coalition troops. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the target of the penalties is Iran’s “inner security apparatus.”

Previewing the sanctions on Thursday, Trump said existing ones “were very severe, but now it’s increased substantially.”

The announcement of new sanctions is the latest in a series of attacks and responses between the United States and Iran within the last month.

They included an attack by an Iranian-based militia that killed a U.S. contractor working in Iraq, and Trump’s decision to authorize a drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian general.

Critics have questioned the wisdom of the Soleimani strike, while Pompeo defended it as a necessary action because Iran was planning more attacks on U.S. interests in the region.

The sanctions announcement came amid a flurry of news regarding Trump and Iran:

– The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed a resolution designed to limit Trump’s ability to wage war against Iran.

– Iraq Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi reportedly told Pompeo to send a delegation to his country to develop a plan for the withdrawal of U.S troops from Iraq.

– Iranian leaders denied that they accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jet that crashed after taking off from Tehran this week. Iran has also asked American and Canadian investigators to share any information they may have on the crash.

*story by USA Today