Al-Monitor – The spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatibzadeh, dismissed new sanctions announced by the US Treasury against an Iranian national and his four companies connected to Tehran’s missile program.
“It is yet another indication of the US government’s ill intentions toward the Iranian nation,” Khatibzadeh said in a statement on March 31.
The US Treasury stated on Wednesday that it had levied the punitive measures as it was convinced the firms and its owner had supported Iran in its development of ballistic missiles. Those missiles, US officials said, allegedly are being used by the Islamic Republic in its ambitious regional activities and in pursuit of deeper influence, a policy that Tehran has defiantly defended as “strategic.”
According to the Iranian spokesperson, the new sanctions came “in continuum of the failed maximum pressure policy,” a reference to an intense sanctions regime introduced by former President Donald Trump’s administration with the aim of squeezing Iran’s economy. Khatibzadeh further rejected the reasoning behind the latest sanctions as “baseless allegations” applied as a “pressure tool against the Iranian nation.”
US authorities maintain that Iranian missiles have been launched by Tehran-backed proxies across the Middle East, including by Yemen’s Houthi rebels against the Aramco oil facility in Saudi Arabia, which has been waging a war on its southern neighbor since 2014.
Iran’s missile program is spearheaded and constantly upgraded by its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The military organization has also recently emerged at the very core of indirect talks between Iran and the United States toward the resurrection of the Iran nuclear deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
In his statement, Khatibzadeh argued that the new sanctions contradict “the US claim about its willingness to return to full compliance under the JCPOA,” suggesting that the measures were in breach of the 2015 accord as well as UN Resolution 2231.
One of the last “remaining issues” in the stalled talks is Tehran’s demand that Washington remove the IRGC from its list of foreign terrorist organizations. US special envoy for Iran Robert Malley has already stated, however, that whether or not the JCPOA is reinstated, the IRGC will continue to suffer multiple sanctions.
Speculation has been rife on what Washington has set as a condition for its potential removal of the IRGC from the list, a move that could consequently pave the way for the revival of the JCPOA.
On Wednesday, Radio Farda, the Prague-based Persian service of the US-funded Radio Free Liberty, published an exclusive report quoting an “informed source” close to the talks with some details on the IRGC-related obstacle in the way of a deal.
The source, according to Radio Farda, has revealed that the United States has conditioned the IRGC delisting upon the Iranian side aborting its plans to avenge the 2020 US killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.
Since the killing, Iran has relentlessly promised “definite revenge” and has not shied away from publicly releasing a list of over 50 names of former US officials allegedly engaged, threatening them with imminent death.
The demand to abandon revenge appears to have been declined by the Iranian side so far, as veiled signals with similar content have also been sent out from Tehran.
“Certain issues that have to do with our national heroes are non-negotiable,” declared Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian earlier this month, in an apparent reference to the slain commander.