By Edward Wong (NYT)
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Monday he is imposing new sanctions on Iran, after saying for days that he preferred tightening the pressure on a crippled Iranian economy to launching an immediate military strike in retaliation for what U.S. officials have said are recent aggressive acts by Tehran.
“We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran,” Trump said as he sat at his desk in the Oval Office preparing to sign an executive order. “Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon.”
He added that the order will bar Iranian leaders from access to financial instruments. The administration did not immediately elaborate.
The Trump administration already moved this spring to cut off all revenues from Iranian oil exports, the lifeblood of the nation’s economy, and the new sanctions are expected to be aimed at shutting down additional sources of income with the goal of forcing political change in Tehran.
Trump and his top foreign policy aides are gambling that continuing the squeeze on Iran will compel its leaders to buckle to demands to limit their nuclear program in ways that go beyond the landmark agreement that major world powers forged with Iran in 2015 — and that Trump withdrew from last year.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who met with the rulers of Saudi Arabia on a last-minute trip Monday, also insists that Iran must curb its regional military activity and end support for partner Arab militias.
U.S. officials have blamed Iran for two separate sets of explosions on six oil tankers around the Strait of Hormuz, saying Iran is trying to show its capabilities and increase global oil prices in retaliation for the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign. Iranian officials have denied responsibility. Last week, the Iranian military shot down a U.S. drone, although the two nations debate whether the drone was in Iranian territory or over international waters.
The downing of the drone prompted Trump to order a missile strike on Iranian military sites Thursday, but he pulled back at the last minute after hours of debate and instead opted to launch a cyberattack.
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