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DECEMBER 2020

Iran Vows To Down More US Drones. Trump Orders Sanctions On Khamenei And IRGC Commanders

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On June 24th, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order sanctioning Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

“All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in.”

The sanctioned institutions and individuals are as follows:

  • The Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei;
  • The Iranian Supreme Leader’s Office (SLO);
  • Any other person determined by the US Secretary of Treasury, in consultation with the US Secretary of State;

The sanctions were imposed “in light of the actions of the Government of Iran and Iranian-backed proxies, particularly those taken to destabilize the Middle East, promote international terrorism, and advance Iran’s ballistic missile program, and Iran’s irresponsible and provocative actions in and over international waters, including the targeting of United States military assets and civilian vessels.”

The executive order allowed the US Treasury Department to sanction any other Iranian institutions.

Following that, the Treasury Department targeted senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commanders behind Iran’s destructive and destabilizing activities, who assist the Supreme Leader.

“The United States is targeting those responsible for effectuating the Iranian regime’s destructive influence in the Middle East.  IRGC commanders are responsible for the Iranian regime’s provocative attacks orchestrated in internationally recognized waters and airspace, as well as Iran’s malign activities in Syria,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.  “Treasury will continue to aggressively target the senior leaders and the financial apparatus sustaining this malign activity.  This action is a warning to officials at all levels of the IRGC and the rest of the Iranian regime that we will continue to sanction those who export violence, sabotage, and terrorism.”

The sanctioned commanders are:

  • IRGCN 1st Naval District Commander Abbas Gholamshahi
  • IRGCN 2nd Naval District Commander Ramezan Zirahi
  • IRGCN 3rd Naval District Commander Yadollah Badin
  • IRGCN 4th Naval District Commander Mansur Ravankar
  • IRGCN 5th Naval District Commander Ali Ozma’i

Just a day before the attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman that the US blamed on Iran, the Treasury Department sanctioned the IRGC’s Quds Force financial conduit in Iraq.

Prior to the executive order or the sanctions, the semi-official Tasnim news agency cited Iran’s Naval Chief, Rear Adm. Hossein Khanzadi said that Tehran was capable of shooting down other US spy drones, such as the one taken down a few days ago.

Khanzadi says Iran can always deliver another “crushing response … and the enemy knows it.”

HINT: On June 20, the IRGC’s Khordad-3 air-defense system shot down a US RQ-4A Global Hawk surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle over the Straight of Hormuz.

Khordad-3 air-defense system (infographics):

Iran Vows To Down More US Drones. Trump Orders Sanctions On Khamenei And IRGC Commanders

Click to see the full-size image

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that he agreed with US President Donald Trump that the US military had no business in the Persian Gulf. But alleged that the “B Team” of US hawks, headed by National Security Adviser John Bolton and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were apparently prevailing in policy.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Saudi Arabia and spoke to Saudi Crown Mohammed bin Salman and King Salman in Jeddah.

He said the Kingdom was ready to build a “global coalition” to fight against Iran.

“We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe, that understands this challenge as it is prepared to push back against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” Pompeo said about Iran.

Separately, in the UN, both the Iranian envoy and the US envoy spoke.

The acting U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was urging the world to join the United States in saying Iran’s attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf and its downing of a U.S. drone in international airspace are “unacceptable.”

Jonathan Cohen says U.S. policy remains “an economic and diplomatic effort to bring Iran back to the negotiating table.”

He said Iran’s argument that the U.S. drone was in its “flight information region” was “false” because “a country’s flight information region is not the same as their airspace.”

The Iranian envoy Majid Takht-Ravanchi called the current situation “very dangerous” and that US must de-escalate tensions by stopping “its military adventurism” in the Middle East.

Ravanchi says U.S.-Iran talks are impossible under current conditions, adding that “you cannot start a dialogue with someone who is threatening, who is intimidating you.”

Majid Takht Ravanchi said the Trump administration’s decision to impose new sanctions on the Islamic Republic is another indication of U.S. hostility against the Iranian people and its leaders.

Russia also spoke about the sanctions, in the face of both Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Deputy Sergey Ryabkov.

Lavrov called the US non-constructive attempts to isolate Iran.

Ryabkov said regarding the sanctions:

“All these actions are totally counterproductive and dangerous”, adding, “No doubt, we condemn such U.S. policy and have repeatedly declared illegality of unilateral sanctions.”

Russia, France, the UK and Germany still maintain that the Iran Nuclear Deal needs to be kept and it was successfully doing what it was supposed to.

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