Trump Administration Hammers a Reeling Iranian Economy With Extensive New Sanctions

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin brief reporters about additional sanctions placed on Iran, at the White House, Friday, Jan. 10, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin brief reporters about additional sanctions placed on Iran, at the White House, Friday, Jan. 10, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)


Yesterday, in his speech on Iran, President Trump promised that a new round of sanctions were in the works.

As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime. These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior.

These sanctions were in direct response to Iran’s role in arming and directing an attack by the Iraqi militia, Kataib Hezbollah, that killed an American contractor, in directing and fomenting a mob action against the US embassy in Baghdad, and for its missile attack on two Iraqi military bases which were housing some US forces.

Today the scope of the sanctions were unveiled.

Bottom line.

Eight senior Iranian leaders where hit with sanctions. This means they can’t travel under their own name and money held by them in banks in the civilized world is frozen.

Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), who was appointed by the Supreme Leader in September 2013 as one of his representatives to the SNSC. Ali Shamkhani, an IRGC admiral, is currently the secretary of the SNSC, which determines the country’s security and defense policies and coordinates political, intelligence, social, and economic activities in accordance with the Supreme Leader’s guidelines.


Brigadier General Gholamreza Soleimani was appointed by the Supreme Leader on July 2, 2019 as the Commander of the Basij Resistance Force, a paramilitary force subordinate to IRGC. Among other malign activities, the IRGC’s Basij militia recruits, trains, and deploys child soldiers to fight in IRGC-fueled conflicts across the region.

Mohsen Reza’i is a longtime member of Iran’s Expediency Council and was appointed by the Supreme Leader. The Expediency Council provides guidance to the Supreme Leader on all manner of policy. Reza’i is a former IRGC commander who is suspected of involvement in the 1994 terrorist attack against the AMIA Jewish community in Argentina, resulting in the deaths of 85 people. Reza’i remains wanted by Argentina and has an active international arrest warrant through Interpol.

Mohammad Reza Naqdi was appointed by the Supreme Leader as the Deputy Coordinator of the IRGC in May 2019. Naqdi is the former Commander of the Basij, as well as a former head of the Basij intelligence unit who was responsible for the interrogation of those arrested during the post-election crackdown in 2009. In this role, he extracted forced confessions from high-ranking reformist leaders broadcast on Iranian state-run television.


Mohammad Reza Ashtiani and Ali Abdollahi are senior Iranian military appointees of the Supreme Leader. Ashtiani was appointed by the Supreme Leader as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian armed forces in July 2019, while IRGC Brigadier General Abdollahi was appointed the Coordination Deputy for the Armed Forces General Staff (AFGS) in July 2016. Abdollahi is a former Deputy Commander of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces.

Ali Asghar Hejazi is a senior official within the Supreme Leader’s Office in charge of security. Hejazi also maintains close links to the IRGC’s Qods Force.

Mohsen Qomi, a Deputy Advisor for International Affairs in the Supreme Leader’s Office and an advisor to the Supreme Leader on International Communications, has represented the Supreme Leader on official international visits.


Some of these people have been sanction one or more times in the past. To me, the sanctioning of individuals is more of a political statement. Given their positions in the Iranian regime, if they want an alternate identity for the purpose of travel, they can certainly get one.

Along with these eight regime stooges, several industries were also hit.

The Iranian regime exploits revenue from its metals industry to fund its destabilizing activities. Accordingly, the Department of State is sanctioning Pamchel Trading (Beijing) Co., Ltd. pursuant to section 1245 the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act for transferring 29,000 metric tons of steel from an Iranian firm that is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. The Department of the Treasury is similarly sanctioning twenty-two entities and three vessels pursuant to E.O. 13871, for operating in the iron, steel, aluminum, or copper sectors of Iran, and related activities.

The President will also issue an Executive Order authorizing the imposition of sanctions with respect to additional sectors of the Iranian economy, including: construction, manufacturing, textiles, and mining. This action will significantly expand the United States’ ability to target this regime’s various revenue streams.

This is not trivial. The sanctions are what are called “secondary” sanctions, which means that no only are US entities forbidden from doing business with them but entities in other countries will be subject to sanctions by the US if they do business with these industries. So, a German bank working with an Iranian textile company would have the choice of stopping or being forbidden to do business with any company doing business with the US.


All in all, it represents a serious turn of the screw on the Iranian economy which is already staggering under the burden of sanctions and epic levels of official corruption. The price will be borne by working class Iranians because the elites always have a way out. But that is a feature not a bug. Domestic unrest has been growing in Iran and a twitch upward in the level of pain and discomfort might convince more Iranians that the criminal claque running their country into the ground has to go.


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