US Sanctions on Iran: 2017

Since Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the United States has imposed sanctions on dozens of individuals and entities for connections to Iran’s ballistic missile program, support for terror or human rights abuses. The first set of sanctions came just two weeks after President Trump’s inauguration. Details regarding sanctions and designations imposed by the Trump administration are outlined below.


The White HouseSeptember 14: The U.S. Treasury sanctioned 11 entities and individuals for supporting Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps or networks responsible for cyber-attacks against the United States. “These sanctions target an Iranian company providing material support to the IRGC’s ballistic missile program, airlines that support the transport of fighters and weapons into Syria, and hackers who execute cyber-attacks on American financial institutions,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. The move by the Treasury Department came on the same day that the administration extended sanctions waivers for Iran as part of the nuclear deal.

August 2: President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan bill imposing sanctions on Iran and Russia. It also increased the President’s ability to sanction individuals connected to North Korea. Congress had voted overwhelmingly to pass the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which includes a provision known as theCountering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017. The bill directs the President to impose sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile or WMD programs, the sale or transfer to Iran of military equipment or related technical or financial assistance, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The bill passed through the House of Representatives on July 25 with a 419-3 vote. On July 27, the Senate voted 97-2 in favor of the bill.

July 28: The U.S. Treasury Department imposed new sanctions on 6 Iran-based entities with connections to Iran’s ballistic missile program. The entities were all subordinates of Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG), which is central to Iran’s missile program.

The sanctions came one day after Iran launched an advanced satellite-carrying rocket into space, which uses similar technology to an intercontinental ballistic missile. “The U.S. Government will continue to aggressively counter Iran’s ballistic missile-related activity, whether it be a provocative space launch, its development of threatening ballistic missile systems, or likely support to Yemeni Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia such as occurred this past weekend,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “These sanctions target key entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, and underscore the United States’ deep concerns with Iran’s continued development and testing of ballistic missiles and other provocative behavior.”

Iran issued a complaint to the Joint Commission overseeing the nuclear deal, arguing that the new sanctions breached the agreement. "Iran's JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] supervisory body assessed the new U.S. sanctions and decided that they contradict parts of the nuclear deal," said Iran's speaker of parliament Ali Larijani. He added that Iran’s monitoring committee devised a 16-article plan to retaliate against the sanctions.

July 18: The U.S. Treasury Department designated 16 entities and individuals for engaging in support of illicit Iranian actors, such as the Iranian military and the IRGC, or transnational criminal activity. The new sanctions coincided with the State Department’s designation of 18 entities and individuals for supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program, military procurement, the IRGC, or an Iran-based transnational criminal organization.

May 17: The United States imposed new sanctions on Iran in connection with its ballistic missile program while simultaneously waiving economic sanctions as part of the 2015 nuclear deal. The United States committed to waive nuclear-related sanctions if Iran remains in compliance with the JCPOA’s terms. Seven targets (three individuals and four entities) were blacklisted by the Treasury Department, including a China-based network, in the new round of sanctions. The Treasury Department worked in conjunction with the State Department, which released a semi-annual report to Congress on Iran’s human rights abuses.

April 13: The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the Tehran Prison Organization and Sohrab Soleimani, a senior official within Iran’s State Prison Organization, for human rights abuses. The announcement cited an April 2014 incident at the infamous Evin Prison, when dozens of security guards and prison officials attacked political prisoners in Ward 350 for several hours. At least 30 were injured and some were placed in solitary confinement without medical treatment. Soleimani was the head of the Tehran Prisons Organization during the event. He is also the brother of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC Qods Force, according to the White House. The elite unit is responsible for foreign operations. Soleimani has spent extensive time in Iraq and in Syria overseeing the fight against ISIS and other militants. Read the full text of the announcement here.

March 21: The United States imposed new sanctions on 11 entities and individuals for “transfers of sensitive items to Iran’s ballistic missile program.” Nine of the 11 entities were Chinese individuals or companies. The measures were part of a wider move under the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act. Read the full text of the State Department’s statement on the newest sanctions here.

February 3: The U.S. Treasury announced new sanctions on 13 individuals and 12 entities for supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program and the IRGC. “Iran’s continued support for terrorism and development of its ballistic missile program poses a threat to the region, to our partners worldwide, and to the United States,” said John E. Smith, acting director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control. The new sanctions came less than a week after Iran tested a medium-range ballistic missile. Washington condemned the launch and officially put Iran “on notice” on February 1. National Security Advisor Flynn added on February 3 that the “international community has been too tolerant of Iran’s bad behavior.”