On January 8, Iran sanctioned 51 Americans for involvement in the U.S. assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Qods Force. Soleimani was widely considered the mastermind behind Iranian interventions in the region and support for military proxies. He was killed in a drone strike shortly after he arrived in Baghdad to meet Iraqi allies on January 3, 2020.
The sanctioned Americans included men and women who held national security posts in the Trump administration as well as military commanders, such as General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Iran’s foreign ministry alleged that the Americans were involved in the “decision-making, organizing, financing, and carrying out” of what it considered a “terrorist act.” The designations followed a week of rallies and official speeches commemorating the second anniversary of Soleimani’s death.
In response, the United States warned that Iran would face severe consequences if it attacked any Americans, including the 51 who were listed. On January 9, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said:
“Yesterday, Iran purported to impose sanctions on 51 Americans. They do so as Iran’s proxy militias continue to attack American troops in the Middle East, and as Iranian officials threaten to carry out terror operations inside the United States and elsewhere around the world. Make no mistake: the United States of America will protect and defend its citizens. This includes those serving the United States now and those who formerly served. As Americans, we have our disagreements on politics. We have our disagreements on Iran policy. But we are united in our resolve against threats and provocations. We are united in the defense of our people. We will work with our allies and partners to deter and respond to any attacks carried out by Iran. Should Iran attack any of our nationals, including any of the 51 people named yesterday, it will face severe consequences.”
In January 2021, Iran had sanctioned Donald Trump and top U.S. officials on his last full day as president. The foreign ministry accused the Trump administration of perpetrating “terrorist and anti-human rights” acts, including expanding military support for Israel and imposing sanctions on Iran. The move was largely symbolic, given that the officials were leaving office and did not have assets in Iran. The following is the foreign ministry’s statement on the new sanctions, a translated list of the designated individuals, and Iran’s response to Sullivan’s statement.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Statement on Jan. 8, 2022:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in accordance with the “Act on Countering Violations of Human Rights and Adventurist and Terrorist Actions of the United States of America in the Region”, particularly, Articles 4 and 5, and in addition to the American individuals including Donald Trump, Michael Pompeo, John Bolton, Mark Esper, Gina Haspel, Christopher Miller and Steven Mnuchin and also Matthew Tueller, Steven Fagin and Rob Waller who were listed respectively on 19 January 2021 and 23 October 2020, identifies and imposes sanctions as set forth in the abovementioned Act on the following persons for the role they played in the terrorist act of the United States against Martyr General Ghasem Soleimani and his companions, in glorification of terrorism and in violating the fundamental human rights. The said persons, as the case may be, have taken part in decision-making, organizing, financing, and carrying out the terrorist act or have otherwise justified terrorism which is a threat to the international peace and security through supporting such egregious terrorist attack.
It is reiterated that United States by conducting the callous terrorist act has flagrantly breached its international legal obligations in countering terrorism and terrorism-financing, in particular, the obligation to refrain and desist from organizing and participating in terrorist acts and the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil human rights which constitute internationally wrongful acts entailing the international responsibility of the United States. As such, the Islamic Republic of Iran, in conformity and compliance with its human rights obligations and also duties in combating terrorism and countering terrorism financing, in particular the state terrorism perpetrated by the United States and to ensure the international peace and security, imposes the sanctions as stipulated in the Act on the said persons on a reciprocal basis.
The Islamic Republic of Iran underlines that the heinous terrorist act will not in any manner diminish the resolute determination and resolve of the Islamic Republic of Iran in following the path of the revered General Soleimani in fighting terrorism and terrorist groups, in particular, the US-backed terrorist groups.
In the light of the above and taking into account the provisions of the “Act on Countering Violations of Human Rights and Adventurist and Terrorist Actions of the United States of America in the Region”, all relevant national authorities will take appropriate measures for effective implementation of the sanctions set forth in the Act.
List of 51 Americans Sanctioned by Iran
- Mark Alexander Milley, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Robert Charles O’Brien Jr., former National Security Advisor (2019-2021)
- Paul Miki Nakasone, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command; Director, the National Security Agency
- Robert Greenway, former Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director, National Security Council’s Middle Eastern and North African Affairs Directorate (2017-2021); former Senior Intelligence Officer, U.S. Central Command, Defense Intelligence Agency (2010-2017)
- Victoria C. Gardner Coates, former Deputy National Security Advisor for Middle Eastern and North African Affairs, National Security Council (2019-2020); Senior Fellow, Center for Security Policy (2021-2022); former Fellow, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
- Matthew F. Pottinger, former Deputy National Security Advisor (2019-2021)
- Joseph Keith Kellogg Jr., former National Security Advisor to the Vice President (2018-2021)
- Frank Dixon Whitworth, Director of Intelligence, Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Andrew Peter Poppas, Director, Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Kenneth Frank McKenzie, Commander, U.S. Central Command
- Richard Douglas Clarke, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command
- Scott Alan Howell, former Commander, Joint Special Operations Command (2018-2021)
- James C. Slife, Commander, Air Force Special Operations Command
- Joseph Thomas Guastella, Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command; Combined Forces Air Component Commander, U.S. Central Command, Southwest Asia
- James Michael Holmes, former Commander, Air Combat Command (2017-2020)
- David Goldfein, former Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force (2016-2020)
- Stephen R. Jones, Commander, 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing
- Jason B. Bell, Vice Commander, 432nd Air and Expeditionary Wing; former Chief, Combat and Current Plans Division, 603d Air Operations Center, Ramstein Air Base
- Andre T. Johnson, Commander, 25th Attack Group, Creech Air Force Base
- Kevin Auger, Commander, 22nd Attack Squadron, Creech Air Force Base
- Jordan Smith, Pilot of Operation, 25th Attack Group, Creech Air Force Base
- Abishai Giles, Sensor Operator, 25th Attack Group, Creech Air Force Base
- Landon Quan, Squadron Commander, 42nd Attack Squadron, Creech Air Force Base
- Mark R. August, Commander, 86th Airlift Wing Ramstein Air Base
- Bradley Chance Saltzman, former Deputy Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command (2019-2020)
- Mark Holmes Slocum, former Commander, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, Southwest Asia (2019-2020)
- Nathan Andrew Mead, Deputy Commander, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, Southwest Asia (2019-2020)
- Timothy Garland, Commander, U.S. Army Battalion, al Asad base
- Staci Coleman, Commander, 443rd Air Expeditionary Squadron 443, al Asad base
- Kurt A. Wendt, former Commander, 501st Air Force Combat Support Wing, Royal Air Force Menwith Hill
- Alexus Gregory Grynkewich, Commander, 332nd, 386th, and 321st Air Expeditionary Wings, Ali al Salem Air Base
- Daniel H. Tulley, former Commander, 378th Air Expeditionary Wing (2019-2021), al Udeid Air Base
- Rodney Lee Simpson, Commander, 386th Expeditionary Group, Ali al Salem Air Base
- Allen Ray Henderson, Deputy Commander, 386th Expeditionary Group, Ali al Salem Air Base
- Jason Colon, Squadron Commander, 386th Expeditionary Group, Ali al Salem Air Base
- Brenden Edrina, squadron personnel, 386th Expeditionary Group, Ali al Salem Air Base (responsible for preparing the MQ-9 aircraft to perform mission)
- Tayler Arbaugh, squadron personnel, 386th Expeditionary Group, Ali al Salem Air Base (responsible for preparing the MQ-9 aircraft)
- Ryan Kuhn, squadron personnel, 386th Expeditionary Group, Ali al Salem Air Base (responsible for preparing the MQ-9 aircraft)
- Jordan Cornelius, squadron personnel, 386th Expeditionary Group, Ali al Salem Air Base (responsible for preparing the MQ-9 aircraft)
- Korbin Steinwehr, squadron personnel, 386th Expeditionary Group, Ali al Salem Air Base (responsible for preparing the MQ-9 aircraft)
- Antonio Dorce, squadron personnel, 386th Expeditionary Group, Ali al Salem Air Base (responsible for preparing the MQ-9 aircraft)
- Charles Seth Corcoran, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, U.S. Air Force; former Commander, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center (2019-2021)
- James Neal Blue, Chairman and CEO, General Atomics (the company which produces the unmanned aerial vehicle MQ-9 Reaper)
- Linden Stanley Blue, Co-Owner and Vice Chairman, General Atomics
- Michael Anthony D’Andrea, former Director, Iran Mission Center, Central Intelligence Agency (2017-2021)
- John M. “Jack” Keane, member, Secretary of Defense’s Policy Board; member, Council on Foreign Relations; former Vice Chief of Staff, U.S. Army (1999-2003)
- Reuel Mark Gerecht, Senior Fellow, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; former Middle Eastern specialist, Directorate of Operations, Central Intelligence Agency
- Andrew Croft, former Commander, Twelfth Air Force (2018-2020)
- Nimarta Nikki Haley, former U.S. Representative to the United Nations (2017-2019)
- John Michael “Mick” Mulvaney, former Chief of Staff to the President (2019-2020)
- Erik Dean Prince, founder, Blackwater (now “Academi”); former U.S. Navy Officer (1992-1995)
The titles and affiliations were been translated and edited for clarity.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh
Remarks on Jan. 10, 2022: “The United States is used to unilaterally placing sanctions and putting pressure [on other countries] and it is not used to speaking [with them] on equal footing in line with international law. It must get accustomed [to the fact] that it cannot treat binding international rules as its domestic ones. What happened in the evening of January 3, 2020 was a flagrant war crime against high-ranking Iranian nationals.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran will sue those who perpetrated, ordered, supervised, and played a role in this flagrant crime and will not spare any effort to bring them to justice.
“The only benefit of such desperate comments is that we consider them as accomplices to those who committed the crime at midnight of January 3. We will neither forgive nor forget and will do our utmost to pursue the US crime at that midnight.”