President Trump began increasing unilateral sanctions on Iran within weeks of taking office in January 2017. By the end of the year, the U.S. had imposed eight new rounds of sanctions, on individuals and companies linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
In May 2018, the United States withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. In November, Trump re-imposed sanctions that had been lifted, in 2016, as part of the U.S. commitment to the accord. By the end of 2018, Washington had also imposed 20 other rounds of sanctions on Iran’s national airline, nuclear and ballistic missile programs, oil smuggling networks and IRGC-linked financiers as part of its "maximum pressure" campaign.
In May 2019, the U.S. lifted waivers that it had granted eight countries—India, China, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan—to buy oil from Iran to meet their energy needs. The goal was to cut Iran’s oil exports, which had reached 3.2 million barrels per day in 2016, down to zero. Washington also imposed 19 other layers of sanctions on the IRGC and its front companies, Iran’s nuclear program, oil and gas industry, banking sector and senior Iranian officials, including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif between January and September 2019.
Trump said his goal was to force Tehran to negotiate a new and broader deal on Iran’s nuclear program, missiles test, intervention in the Middle East and support for extremist movements.
The following is a timeline of sanctions imposed under the Trump administration.
February 3, 2017
The U.S. Treasury announced new sanctions on 13 individuals and 12 entities for supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (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 come 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.”
March 17, 2017
The U.S. State Department sanctioned two Bahrainis with ties to Iran for supporting terrorism. One was affiliated with the al Ashtar Brigades, which has received funding and support from the Iranian government and carried out attacks in Bahrain. Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi, however, dismissed the allegations as political. In the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring protests, Shiite Bahrainis held mass demonstrations against the Sunni-dominated government.
March 21, 2017
The United States imposed sanctions on 11 entities and individuals for “transfers of sensitive items to Iran’s ballistic missile program.” Washington considers Tehran’s missile program a threat to regional security. Since Iran tested a medium-range ballistic missile in January 2017, the U.S. Treasury has also sanctioned individuals and entities for supporting the program. The latest measures were part of a wider move under the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act.
May 17, 2017
The Treasury Department blacklisted three individuals and four entities, including a China-based network, for supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program. The Treasury Department worked in conjunction with the State Department, which released a semi-annual report to Congress on Iran’s human rights abuses. On the same day, President Trump clarified that the United States would not pursue efforts to reduce Iran’s sale of crude oil, consistent with U.S. commitments as part of the nuclear deal.
July 18, 2017
The State Department announced new sanctions on “18 entities and individuals supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program and for supporting Iran’s military procurement or Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), as well as an Iran-based transnational criminal organization and associated persons.” Additionally, the Treasury Department “designated seven entities and five individuals for engaging in activities in support of Iran’s military procurement or the IRGC, as well as an Iran-based transnational criminal organization and three associated persons.”
August 2, 2017
President 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 the Countering 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.
September 14, 2017
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.
November 20, 2017
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned a wide network of individuals of entities that were helping Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Qods Force “counterfeit currency to support its destabilizing activities.” The U.S. government has accused the Qods Force of meddling in the affairs of Iran’s neighbors and supporting terror.
January 4, 2018
The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned five Iran-based entities for ties to the country's ballistic missile program. The United States said the organizations were owned or controlled by an industrial firm responsible for developing and producing Iran's solid-propellant ballistic missiles. The sanctions froze any U.S. property the entities hold and prohibited Americans from engaging with them.
January 12, 2018
The United States took an increasingly hard stance on Tehran’s human rights violations and its controversial missile program. The decision followed widespread protests in Iran over economic hardships in which more than 3,000 were arrested and at least 22 were killed. In an unprecedented move, the Treasury sanctioned the head of Iran’s judiciary, Sadegh Amoli Larijani, along with 13 others in connection with human rights abuses and censorship or weapons proliferation. In a briefing, a senior administration official said that the designations go to the top of the regime and are intended to send a strong message that the United States will not tolerate Iran’s continued violations of the rights of its citizens.
March 23, 2018
The United States issued sanctions and criminal indictments against an Iranian hacker network that targeted hundreds of U.S. and foreign universities, dozens of U.S. companies and government agencies and the United Nations. The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned one Iranian entity and 10 individuals for theft of intellectual property and data. The Department of Justice indicted nine Iranians for conducting a massive cyber theft campaign on behalf of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
"The IRGC outsourced cyber intrusions to The Mabna Institute, a hacker network that infiltrated hundreds of universities to steal sensitive data," said Treasury Under Secretary Sigal Mandelker. “We will not tolerate the theft of U.S. intellectual property, or intrusions into our research institutions and universities." It is one of the largest state-sponsored hacking campaigns ever prosecuted by the Justice Department.
May 10, 2018
The United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) moved to disrupt an extensive currency exchange network that helped fund Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the elite unit responsible for operations abroad. The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned nine Iranian individuals and entities. “The Treasury Department thanks the UAE for its close collaboration on this matter. Countries around the world must be vigilant against Iran’s efforts to exploit their financial institutions to exchange currency and fund the nefarious actors of the IRGC-QF and the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
May 15, 2018
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned four individuals and one bank for moving millions of dollars on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF) to the Lebanese militia and political movement Hizballah. One of the individuals was Valiollah Seif, Iran’s Central Bank Governor. Seif “covertly funneled millions of dollars on behalf of the IRGC-QF through Iraq-based al-Bilad Islamic Bank to enrich and support the violent and radical agenda of Hizballah,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. The bank and individuals were branded Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Seif has faced criticism from Iranian lawmakers, including calls for his dismissal, for not preventing the devaluation of the rial in April 2018.
May 16, 2018
The U.S. Treasury Department partnered with seven member states of the Terrorist Financing and Targeting Center to designate Hezbollah senior leadership, including Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah. “Under the dictates of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), Secretary General and head of the Shura Council Hasan Nasrallah is prolonging the human suffering in Syria, fueling the violence in Iraq and Yemen, putting the Lebanese state and the Lebanese people at risk, and destabilizing the entire region," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
May 17, 2018
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Hezbollah's financing network, its third action in a week against individuals with ties to Iran and its Central Bank. The Office of Foreign Assets Control designated Hezbollah financier Mohammad Ibrahim Bazzi and his Iranian representative Abdallah Safi al Din. “This action highlights the duplicity and disgraceful conduct of Hizballah and its Iranian backers. Despite Nasrallah’s claims, Hizballah uses financiers like Bazzi who are tied to drug dealers, and who launder money to fund terrorism,” Secretary Mnuchin said.
May 22, 2018
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned five Iranians for providing ballistic missile-related technical expertise or transferring weapons to the Houthis, a Zaydi Shiite movement that has been fighting Yemen’s Sunni-majority government since 2004. The five individuals were associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force, an elite unit responsible for operations outside of Iran.
May 24, 2018
The Treasury Department designated nine individuals and entities that were procuring "export-controlled, U.S.-origin goods for sanctioned Iranian airlines." The sanctions also targeted procurement networks based in Turkey. "The deceptive practices these airlines employ to illegally obtain services and U.S. goods is yet another example of the duplicitous ways in which the Iranian regime has operated," said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. This was the second set of sanctions issued since Secretary of State Pompeo threatend to apply severe economic and military pressure on Tehran if it did not make sweeping changes in its foreign and nuclear policies.
May 30, 2018
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned three Iranian entities and six individuals for committing human rights abuses and censorship activities on behalf of Iran's government. “Iran not only exports terrorism and instability across the world, it routinely violates the rights of its own people," said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. "The Iranian regime diverts national resources that should belong to the people to fund a massive and expensive censorship apparatus and suppress free speech.”
June 27, 2018
The U.S. Treasury removed licenses that had allowed foreign owned subsidiaries of U.S. companies to engage in limited transactions with Iran. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) revoked two general licenses, including the one that had allowed the export of commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services to Iran.
July 9, 2018
The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Mahan Travel and Tourism Sdn Bhd, a Malaysia-based sales agent that worked for, or on behalf of, Mahan Air, a blacklisted airline. “Mahan Air is the airline of choice for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force, facilitating its support to terrorism across the Middle East,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Our action against an independent company providing General Sales Agent services to Mahan makes clear to all in the aviation industry that they urgently need to sever all ties and distance themselves immediately from this airline.”
July 10, 2018
The U.S. State Department designated al Ashtar Brigades (AAB), an Iran-backed group committed to overthrowing Bahrain’s government, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. As a result, the all of AAB’s property and interests in property subject to U.S. jurisdiction were blocked. “From Africa, Europe, North America, Asia, and the Gulf, Iran is using terrorist proxies to extend its malevolent influence and upend international peace and stability. Al-Ashtar is yet another in a long line of Iranian sponsored terrorists who kill on behalf of a corrupt regime. Today’s designation serves notice that the United States sees plainly what Iran is trying to do to Bahrain through its proxy, the terrorist group Al-Ashtar,” said Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan A. Sales.
August 6, 2018
President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order reimposing sanctions on Iran. The move was consistent with his May 8 announcement of the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and the reimposition of nuclear-related sanctions. “These actions include reimposing sanctions on Iran’s automotive sector and on its trade in gold and precious metals, as well as sanctions related to the Iranian rial,” Trump said. He urged all nations “to make clear that the Iranian regime faces a choice: either change its threatening, destabilizing behavior and reintegrate with the global economy, or continue down a path of economic isolation.” The measures will take effect on August 7, while the rest of the sanctions will be reimposed on November 5. The remaining sanctions will be more biting since they target Iran’s lucrative oil exports and transactions by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran.
President Trump also emphasized his willingness to negotiate a new deal with Iran. “As we continue applying maximum economic pressure on the Iranian regime, I remain open to reaching a more comprehensive deal that addresses the full range of the regime’s malign activities, including its ballistic missile program and its support for terrorism,” he said.
September 14, 2018
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned Thailand-based My Aviation Company Limited for acting for or on behalf of Mahan Air, an Iranian airline previously blacklisted for support for terrorism. “Treasury is cutting off yet another service provider acting on behalf of Mahan Air, a sanctioned airline that transports soldiers and supplies to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad and fuels terrorist activities across the region,” said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin. Mahan Air was designated in October 2011 for providing financial, material, or technological support for or to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force, which is responsible for operations abroad.
October 16, 2018
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned a network of 20 businesses for providing financial support to the Basij Resistance Force, a paramilitary under the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). “The Bonyad Taavon Basij network is an example of how the IRGC and Iranian military forces have expanded their economic involvement in major industries, and infiltrated seemingly legitimate businesses to fund terrorism and other malign activities. This vast network provides financial infrastructure to the Basij’s efforts to recruit, train, and indoctrinate child soldiers who are coerced into combat under the IRGC’s direction,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
October 23, 2018
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned nine individuals associated with the Taliban, including Iranian supporters. The United States acted in partnership with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, the other member states of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), established in mid-2017. “The TFTC has again demonstrated its tremendous value to international security by disrupting and exposing key Taliban members who are involved in suicide attacks, and other lethal activities. We are also targeting key Iranian sponsors providing financial and material support to the Taliban,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Iran’s provision of military training, financing, and weapons to the Taliban is yet another example of Tehran’s blatant regional meddling and support for terrorism,” he added.
November 5, 2018
The U.S. Treasury reimposed sanctions on Iran that had been lifted or waived in January 2016 under the nuclear deal. The Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned more than 700 individuals, entities, aircraft, and vessels — its largest ever single-day action targeting the Iranian regime. The targets included banks, including Iran’s Central Bank, the Iranian oil company, and many other key economic actors. “Treasury’s imposition of unprecedented financial pressure on Iran should make clear to the Iranian regime that they will face mounting financial isolation and economic stagnation until they fundamentally change their destabilizing behavior. Iran’s leaders must cease support for terrorism, stop proliferating ballistic missiles, end destructive regional activities, and abandon their nuclear ambitions immediately if they seek a path to sanctions relief,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
November 13, 2018
The U.S. State Department offered rewards of up to five million dollars each for information on one Hamas leader and two Lebanese Hezbollah leaders. Both groups have received weapons, training and funding from Tehran for years. Hamas leader Salih al Aruri “is currently living freely in Lebanon, where he is reportedly is working with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force,” said Assistant Secretary of Diplomatic Security Mike Evanoff at a press briefing. The first wanted Hezbollah member, Khalil Yusif Mahmoud Harb, is an advisor to the group’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. The second member, Haytham Ali Tabatabai, is a key military leader who commanded Hezbollah special forces in both Syria and Yemen. “The actions we’re announcing today are one more step in our campaign to build the toughest sanctions regime ever imposed on Iran. More sanctions are coming, and they will continue until Iran and its proxies change their behavior,” said Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales.
On the same day, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned four Hezbollah-affiliated individuals who coordinate the group's activities in Iraq. ““Treasury’s concerted actions aim to deny Hezbollah’s clandestine attempts to exploit Iraq to launder funds, procure weapons, train fighters, and collect intelligence as a proxy for Iran,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
November 20, 2018
The U.S Treasury sanctioned six individuals and three entities for providing millions of barrels of oil to the Syrian regime. The Office of Foreign Assets Control said that Russia facilitated the delivery of Iranian oil to Syria. The Assad government then transferred money to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force, which forwarded funds to Lebanese Hezbollah and Hamas. “Central Bank of Iran officials continue to exploit the international financial system, and in this case even used a company whose name suggests a trade in humanitarian goods as a tool to facilitate financial transfers supporting this oil scheme,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Today’s sanctions, in conjunction with economic, diplomatic, and other strategic initiatives, are part of the U.S. government’s long-term maximum pressure campaign to counter the Iranian regime’s influence and destabilizing regional activities, to deny it the funds it uses to bankroll terrorist and militant proxies, and to secure the removal of all Iranian forces from Syria,” the State Department added.
March 5, 2019
On March 5, the U.S. State Department and Treasury sanctioned Harakat al Nujaba, an Iran-backed militia in Iraq, and its leader, Akram Abbas al Kabi. The State Department designated them as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. “These designations demonstrate the United States’ unwavering commitment to isolate and deny funding to the Iranian regime’s terrorist proxies,” said the State Department.
March 22, 2019
The U.S. State Department and Treasury sanctioned 31 Iranian entities and individuals linked to the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, also known by its Persian acronym, SPND. The organization was founded by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who allegedly headed Iran’s pre-2004 nuclear weapons program, in 2011. “SPND has employed as many as 1500 individuals – including numerous researchers associated with the Amad plan, who continue to carry out dual-use research and development activities, of which aspects are potentially useful for nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons delivery systems,” according to the State Department. The designations serve as a “warning to individuals and entities considering dealing with the Iranian regime’s defense sector in general, and SPND in particular: by engaging in sanctionable activity with designated Iranian persons, you risk professional, personal, and financial isolation,” said the Treasury.
March 26, 2016
The United States sanctioned a network of front companies that evaded U.S. sanctions to provide support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran’s Ministry and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL). “With this action today we are increasing our pressure even further on the Iranian regime,” said the Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook.
The Treasury Department designated 25 individuals and entities, including a network of companies based in Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, for transferring over a billion dollars and euros to the IRGC and MODAFL as well as procuring millions of dollars’ worth of vehicles for MODAFL. “The IRGC, MODAFL, and other malign actors in Iran continue to exploit the international financial system to evade sanctions, while the regime funds terrorism and other destabilizing activities across the region,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
April 8, 2019
The United States announced the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), effective April 15. The IRGC is Iran’s most powerful military and security organization as well as a key economic player. “This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft,” said President Donald Trump. He noted that it was the “first time that the United States has ever named part of another government as a FTO.” In response, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council designated U.S. Central Command forces as terrorists and the U.S. as a “sponsor of terrorism.”
April 22, 2019
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States will stop providing sanctions exemptions to countries that import Iranian oil. “We will continue to apply maximum pressure on the Iranian regime until its leaders change their destructive behavior, respect the rights of the Iranian people, and return to the negotiating table,” said Pompeo. He noted that oil sales account for up to 40 percent of Iran’s revenue. The Trump administration's stated goal is to bring Iranian exports down to zero.
Eight countries received exemptions in November, which will expire on May 2. Three countries – Greece, Italy and Taiwan – have already reduced their Iranian imports to zero. China, India, Turkey, Japan, and South Korea will need to do the same or risk running afoul of U.S. sanctions.
May 3, 2019
The State Department outlined a new list of sanctionable actions related to Iran’s nuclear program. Washington warned that “assistance to expand Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant beyond the existing reactor unit will be exposed to sanctions.” Additionally, “any involvement in transferring enriched uranium out of Iran in exchange for natural uranium will now be exposed to sanctions.” The restrictions are the latest expression of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” to change Iran’s behavior and persuade it to negotiate a new agreement that would address its nuclear and missile programs, human rights abuses, support for terror, and other issues.
The United States, however, will permit certain ongoing nonproliferation projects to continue “for a renewable duration of 90 days.” For example, the Arak reactor is currently being redesigned to ensure that it cannot produce weapons-grade plutonium.
May 8, 2019
President Donald Trump signed an executive order to impose sanctions on Iran’s iron, steel, aluminum, and copper sectors. The White House statement noted that those metals are “the regime’s largest non-petroleum-related sources of export revenue,” some 10 percent. The metals and mining industry has historically been an important source of employment as well. As of January 2018, some 620,000 people were working in the sector, according to the Boston-based consultancy Arthur D. Little. In May 2019, the Associated Press published a breakdown of the industry: steel mills employ some 50,000 workers, steel exports have been on the rise for more than five years, and metal-related industries employ about 2.2 million workers or 10 percent of the workforce, according to a report by Iran’s parliament. Trump warned that “Tehran can expect further actions unless it fundamentally alters its conduct.”
June 7, 2019
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned Iran’s largest petrochemical holding group, Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (PGPIC), for supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The U.S. had designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization on April 8. The Office of Foreign Assets Control said that PGPIC provided financial support to Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, the engineering arm of the IRGC. The PGPIC conglomerate manages 40 percent of Iran’s petrochemical production capacity and accounts for 50 percent of Iran’s total petrochemical exports. The Treasury also sanctioned 39 of PGPIC’s subsidiary petrochemical companies and foreign-based sales agents. “By targeting this network we intend to deny funding to key elements of Iran’s petrochemical sector that provide support to the IRGC,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “This action is a warning that we will continue to target holding groups and companies in the petrochemical sector and elsewhere that provide financial lifelines to the IRGC.”
June 12, 2019
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned an Iraqi company, South Wealth Resources Company (SWRC), for trafficking hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force. The United States had designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization on April 8. The Qods Force is an elite branch of the IRGC responsible for foreign operations and often serves as the link between proxy forces and Tehran.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control said that SWRC and two of its Iraqi associates, who were also sanctioned, had covertly facilitated Qods Force access to the Iraqi financial system to evade U.S. sanctions. The Treasury said the company’s smuggling network also benefited previously-sanctioned Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, an Iraqi advisor to Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani. “Treasury is taking action to shut down Iranian weapons smuggling networks that have been used to arm regional proxies of the IRGC Qods Force in Iraq, while personally enriching regime insiders,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The Iraqi financial sector and the broader international financial system must harden their defenses against the continued deceptive tactics emanating from Tehran in order to avoid complicity in the IRGC’s ongoing sanctions evasion schemes and other malign activities.”
June 24, 2019
President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order imposing sanctions on the office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “The Supreme Leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime. He is respected within his country. His office oversees the regime’s most brutal instruments,” said Trump. The designation was a significant escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran.
But Trump also held out the prospect of diplomacy. “America is a peace-loving nation. We do not seek conflict with Iran or any other country. I look forward to the day when sanctions can be finally lifted and Iran can become a peaceful, prosperous, and productive nation. That can go very quickly; it can be tomorrow. It can also be in years from now,” he said. “So I look forward to discussing whatever I have to discuss with anybody that wants to speak.”
After Trump signed the Executive Order, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced sanctions on eight senior commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He said the move would lock up billions of dollars in Iranian assets and affect others in the chain of command. Mnuchin charged that the 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.” Mnuchin added that the Treasury was preparing to designate Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later in the week. The announcements followed the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone by Iran on June 20 and attacks on tankers in May and June that Washington attributed to Iranian forces.
July 18, 2019
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned seven companies and five individuals linked to an international procurement network that provided Iran with sensitive materials for its nuclear program. The companies and individuals designated were based in Iran, Belgium, and China. The Treasury said the network provided Iran’s Centrifuge Technology Company (TESA) with materials needed to produce centrifuges for Tehran’s uranium enrichment program. “Treasury is taking action to shut down an Iranian nuclear procurement network that leverages Chinese- and Belgium-based front companies to acquire critical nuclear materials and benefit the regime’s malign ambitions. Iran cannot claim benign intent on the world stage while it purchases and stockpiles products for centrifuges,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The U.S. government is deeply concerned by the Iranian regime’s uranium enrichment and other provocative behaviors, and will continue to target all who provide support to Iran’s nuclear program.”
July 31, 2019
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for acting on behalf of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The United States had already designated Khamenei on June 24. The Treasury accused Zarif of implementing the regime’s “reckless agenda” by disseminating its propaganda throughout the world. In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, "Iran’s Foreign Ministry is not merely the diplomatic arm of the Islamic Republic but also a means of advancing many of the Supreme Leader’s destabilizing policies."
August 28, 2019
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned two procurement networks linked to the Iranian regime and its military organizations. The designation included two Iranian men and several companies accused of providing ten million dollars of materials for Tehran’s WMD program. One network used a front company in Hong Kong to evade sanctions and obtain U.S. technology and components for individuals connected to the Iranian regime and IRGC. The second network procured aluminum alloy products for companies controlled by Iran’s defense ministry. “As the Iranian regime attempts to use complex schemes to hide its efforts to bolster its WMD program, the U.S. government will continue to thwart them at every turn," said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker. "We urge governments worldwide to recognize the extraordinary lengths to which the regime in Tehran will go to conceal its behavior, and to ensure that their companies and financial institutions are not facilitating Iran's proliferation activities.”
August 29, 2019
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned four individuals responsible for transferring tens of millions of dollars between Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Hamas in Gaza. Muhammad Sarur, Kamal Abdelrahman Aref Awad, Fawaz Mahmud Ali Nasser, and Muhammad Kamal are accused of funneling money to Hamas’s operational arm, Izz-Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, through Hezbollah’s sanctioned bank, Bayt al-Mal. “These facilitators funneled tens of millions of dollars from Iran’s Qods Force through Hizballah in Lebanon to HAMAS for terrorist attacks originating from the Gaza Strip. HAMAS’s continued violent campaign against innocent civilians and the state of Israel is to the great detriment of the people in Gaza,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “This Administration will not falter to hold HAMAS and its Iranian leaders accountable for their violence. Treasury will continue to disrupt terrorist networks by targeting those who generate funds to carry out the Iranian regime’s violent agenda.”
September 3, 2019
The United States imposed new sanctions on Iran’s space program for supporting ballistic missile development. The move came after Iran’s failed attempt to launch a space vehicle on August 29. “Iran’s civilian space launch vehicle program allows it to gain experience with various technologies necessary for development of an ICBM – including staging, ignition of upper-stage engines, and control of a multiple-stage missile throughout flight,” warned the State Department. The United States sanctioned the Iran Space Agency and two of its research institutes. “These designations should serve as a warning to the international scientific community that collaborating with Iran’s space program could contribute to Tehran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon delivery system,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
September 3, 2019
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned the Iranian oil tanker, the Adrian Darya-1, which it accused of transporting 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil on behalf of the IRGC. The ship, formerly named the Grace 1, was detained by Britain off the coast of Gibraltar on July 4 for attempting to smuggle oil to Syria in violation of E.U. sanctions. Treasury also designated the ship’s captain, Akhilesh Kumar, for providing support to a terrorist organization. “Vessels like the Adrian Darya 1 enable the IRGC-QF to ship and transfer large volumes of oil, which they attempt to mask and sell illicitly to fund the regime’s malign activities and propagate terrorism,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “Anyone providing support to the Adrian Darya 1 risks being sanctioned. The path to relief is to change course and not allow the IRGC-QF to profit from illicit oil sales.”
September 4, 2019
The U.S. Treasury designated an “oil for terror” network accused of aiding the IRGC in funding its terrorist operations. The network consisted of 25 entities and individuals and 11 vessels involved in hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit oil sales. Brian Hook, the U.S. special envoy for Iran, said the United States would offer up to $15 million for any information that disrupts IRGC financial operations. “Today’s announcement is historic. It’s the first time that the United States has offered a reward for information that disrupts a government entity’s financial operations,” Hook said. “We have taken this step because the IRGC operates more like a terrorist organization than it does a government.”
September 20, 2019
President Trump announced sanctions on Iran’s central bank. “We’ve never done it at this level,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “It’s too bad what’s happening with Iran. It’s going to hell.” Trump added, “They are broke and they could solve the problem very easily. All they have to do is stop with the terror.” Trump had directed the Treasury to increase sanctions on Iran following the September 14 drone and cruise missile strike on Saudi oil facilities, which Washington blamed on Tehran. Iran denied involvement.
The United States also sanctioned the National Development Fund of Iran and Etemad Tejarate Pars Co., which allegedly conceals financial transfers for military purchases. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the measures would cut off Tehran’s last remaining source of funds. “Iran’s Central Bank and the National Development Fund were ostensibly intended to safeguard the welfare of the Iranian people, but have been used instead by this corrupt regime to move Iran’s foreign currency reserves for terrorist proxies,” he said.
September 25, 2019
The United States announced sanctions on five Chinese companies and six Chinese nationals accused of importing oil from Iran. The United States designated the China Concord Petroleum Co. Ltd., and two units of a major Chinese shipping company, Cosco Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Co. Ltd. and Cosco Shipping Tanker (Dalian) Seaman and Ship Management Co. Ltd. Washington also sanctioned the companies’ top executives. “We are telling China, and all nations: know that we will sanction every violation,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a speech at the United Against Nuclear Iran Summit.
November 4, 2019
The United States marked 40 years since the seizure of its embassy in Tehran by announcing new sanctions on Iran. The Treasury Department blacklisted nine members of the supreme leader’s inner circle. “The designation seeks to block funds from flowing to a shadow network of Khamenei’s military and foreign affairs advisors who have for decades oppressed the Iranian people, supported terrorism, and advanced destabilizing policies around the world,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
November 22, 2019
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned Iran’s communications minister, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, for his role in internet censorship. Washington blamed Jahromi’s ministry for blocking internet access in the country for several days in November during widespread protests sparked by a sudden fuel price hike.
The Treasury said that the disruption of internet connectivity followed similar patterns that occurred during other protests in Iran in 2017 and 2018. “Iran’s leaders know that a free and open internet exposes their illegitimacy, so they seek to censor internet access to quell anti-regime protests,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “We are sanctioning Iran’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology for restricting internet access, including to popular messaging applications that help tens of millions of Iranians stay connected to each other and the outside world.”
December 6, 2019
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned three Iran-backed Iraqi militia leaders for their alleged role in the killing of innocent protestors in Iraq. The Treasury designated Qais al Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahl al Haq, and Laith al Khazali, his brother and another senior leader of the Iran-backed group. The sanctions also targeted Hussein Falih al Lami, security chief for the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella organization that includes many Iran-backed militias. “Iran’s attempts to suppress the legitimate demands of the Iraqi people for reform of their government through the slaughter of peaceful demonstrators is appalling,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Peaceful public dissent and protest are fundamental elements of all democracies. The United States stands with the Iraqi people in their efforts to root out corruption. We will hold accountable the perpetrators of human rights abuse and corruption in Iraq.”
December 11, 2019
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced sanctions on three Iranian transportation companies that “helped Iran import items for its weapons of mass destruction programs.” The United States also blacklisted a shipping network that smuggles weapons from Iran to Yemen to support the Qods Force, an elite branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned Iran’s largest shipping company, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and national airline, Mahan Air. It accused IRISL of using falsified documents and other deceptive tactics to secretly ship equipment for Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO) and Shahid Hemmat Industries Group (SHIG)—entities that operate Iran’s ballistic missile program. Mahan Air allegedly helped Tehran transport missile-related graphite and high-grade carbon fiber in violation of U.N. sanctions. The following are remarks by Secretary Pompeo and a Treasury press release.
January 10, 2020
President Trump issued an executive order authorizing sanctions “against any individual or entity operating in the construction, manufacturing, textiles, or mining sectors of the Iranian economy.” Mining and metals have historically been one of the regime's largest non-oil sources of export revenue, some 10 percent. The U.S. Treasury also blacklisted eight senior Iranian officials, including the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani. “The United States is targeting senior Iranian officials for their involvement and complicity in Tuesday’s ballistic missile strikes,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Iran had launched more than a dozen missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops in retaliation for the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the elite Qods Force. “We are also designating Iran’s largest metals manufacturers, and imposing sanctions on new sectors of the Iranian economy including construction, manufacturing, and mining. These sanctions will continue until the regime stops the funding of global terrorism and commits to never having nuclear weapons,” Mnuchin added.
January 17, 2020
The United States blacklisted a Revolutionary Guards commander for his involvement in the crackdown on demonstrators in November 2019. Brigadier General Hassan Shahvarpour “oversaw the massacre of 148 helpless Iranians in the Mahshahr region,” U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told reporters. Hook said information about Shahvarpour and other regime officials came from some 88,000 tips received by the State Department from Iranians.
January 23, 2020
The U.S. Treasury Department designated four companies accused of purchasing Iranian oil and petrochemical products in violation of U.S. sanctions. Two companies based in Hong Kong, one company based in Shanghai and another company based in Dubai allegedly helped Iran’s state-owned oil company export millions of dollars’ worth of petroleum products. The United States also sanctioned Ali Bayandrian, who is linked to Hong Kong-based Triliance Petroleum, and Zhiqing Wang, who has ties to Shandong Oiwangwa. “Iran’s petrochemical and petroleum sectors are primary sources of funding for the Iranian regime’s global terrorist activities and enable its persistent use of violence against its own people,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
January 30, 2020
The United States announced sanctions on the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and its chief, Ali Akbar Salehi. “The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has played a big role in Iran breaching its key nuclear commitments [under the 2015 nuclear deal],” Hook said. “It has exceeded the limits on its uranium stockpile and enrichment levels. The head of AEOI personally inaugurated the installation of new advanced centrifuges to expand its uranium enrichment capacity.”
The United States also renewed sanctions waivers on Iran’s nuclear projects for 60 days. The waivers allowed Russian, Chinese and European companies to continue work on the Arak heavy-water research reactor, the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the Tehran Research Reactor and several other joint initiatives.