July 18 (UPI) — President Donald Trump‘s administration added new sanctions Tuesday on 18 Iranian nationals, groups and networks connected to the nation’s ballistic missile program, officials said.
Monday, Trump’s administration certified to Congress that Iran is technically complying with the landmark 2015 nuclear deal — but noted that the country “remains one of the most dangerous to U.S. interests and regional stability.”
Every 90 days, the U.S. State Department is required to report whether Iran is adhering to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement, which was struck in 2015 by the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the European Union.
“The United States remains deeply concerned about Iran’s malign activities across the Middle East, which undermine regional stability, security and prosperity,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Tuesday. “Iran continues to support terrorist groups such as Hizballah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad that threaten Israel and stability in the Middle East.”
Trump vowed to dismantle the historic agreement while he was a candidate, but he’s given himself more time to determine whether to follow through on that pledge.
The new sanctions were taken pursuant to an executive order that “targets proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery and supporters of such activity” and another order, “which targets transnational criminal organizations,” the State Department said.
The U.S. Treasury Department is sanctioning seven groups and five people that aided Iran’s military or its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp. The sanctions also target a transnational criminal group based in Iran and three people associated with it.
The State Department said it’s sanctioning two more groups associated with Iran’s ballistic missile program.
“Iran’s other malign activities are serving to undercut whatever ‘positive contributions’ to regional and international peace and security were intended to emerge from the [agreement],” Nauert said.
Under the new sanctions, the subjects’ U.S. assets will be frozen and they are barred from doing any business with U.S. citizens or entities.
“[We] will continue to use sanctions to target those who lend support to Iran’s destabilizing behavior and above all, the United States will never allow the regime in Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” Nauert added.
The Trump administration has also expressed concern that the Iranian regime continues to detain U.S. citizens and other foreigners on “fabricated national-security related charges.”
“We call upon Iran to release U.S. citizens Baquer Namazi, Siamak Namazi, and Xiyue Wang, and all other unjustly detained U.S. citizens, so that they can be reunited with their families,” Nauert said. “It has also been more than a decade since Robert Levinson disappeared from Iran’s Kish Island.”
The FBI has offered a $5 million reward for any information that could lead to Levinson’s safe return.
“Iran’s regime has an egregious human rights record,” Nauert said. “Notably, arbitrary arrest and detention of members of religious minorities and political activists, is common — as is the use of torture and other forms of abuse in detention.”
Last month, the United States listed Iran among 23 nations in its annual Trafficking in Persons report, which cites the worst offenders.