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U.S. imposes new sanctions on Iran targeting defense program

By
Danielle Haynes
Senior administration officials accused Iran of using a defense program to cover its nuclear activity. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Senior administration officials accused Iran of using a defense program to cover its nuclear activity. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

March 22 (UPI) -- The United States imposed new sanctions on Iran on Friday, targeting people involved in nuclear and missile research programs, the U.S. Treasury Department announced.

The department named 14 individuals and 17 entities connected to Iran's Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research.

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"The United States will continue applying maximum pressure to the Iranian regime, using all economic tools to prevent Iran from developing weapons of mass destruction. Anyone considering dealing with the Iranian defense industry in general, and SPND in particular, risks professional, personal, and financial isolation," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, using an alternative acronym for the organizations.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions are meant to deny the Iranian regime the ability to create weapons of mass destruction and "all its outlaw activities."

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Senior administration officials said SPND and organizations within it are a cover for Iran to continue in nuclear activity in violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action -- also called the Iran nuclear deal.

"In action after action over the last several years, the Iranian regime is expert at building out these front companies, pretending like they're from somewhere else doing something else and yet taking advantage in many different ways of the international financial system," one official told reporters during a briefing call.

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President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the JCPOA in May, calling it "defective at its core." The United States has since reinstated sanctions that were lifted as part of the JCPOA.

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Administration officials said the United States used information from an archive of documents released by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Iran's nuclear activities.

"We're leveraging information from that archive into the present day," an official said. "This is a concrete example of how we're using the information in that archive as a piece of our policy toolset in the present day."

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