The United States placed additional economic sanctions on Iran Friday amid escalating tensions between the two countries.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made the announcement at a press conference, citing Iran’s “terrorist activities” as the reason for sanctions.
Mnuchin said U.S. President Donald Trump will issue an executive order imposing sanctions on anyone involved in the Iranian textile, construction, manufacturing or mining sectors. They will also impose separate sanctions against the steel and iron sectors.
The new sanctions will also target eight senior Iranian officials.
“They’ve carried out terrorist plots and destabilizing campaigns across the Middle East and around the world,” Pompeo said.
“The goal of our campaign is to deny the regime the resources to conduct destructive foreign policy. We want Iran to simply behave like a normal nation,” he said.
Pompeo added their main goal is to ensure Iran never has access to a nuclear weapon.
Mohsen Rezaie, a sanctioned commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, reacted to the news on Twitter shortly after, calling the move “symbolic.”
“Imposing sanctions is symbolic for America and for me because this measure will have no economic impact and will not compensate for (Iran’s) missile barrage (on U.S. targets) and will not bring respect for Washington,” he tweeted. “It is symbolic for me … And I am proud to be sanctioned by America.”
Sanctions are the latest in a series of events that have further strained U.S.-Iran relations. Earlier this week, Iran launched strikes in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the country’s most powerful commander, in Baghdad last week.
Pompeo reiterated Friday that the U.S. killed Soleimani to prevent an “imminent attack” against U.S. facilities, including the American embassy in Baghdad. However, he did not explain how officials knew the attack was “imminent.”
“I don’t know exactly which minute. We don’t know exactly which day it would have been executed, but it was very clear,” Pompeo said.
“Qassem Soleimani himself was plotting a broad, large scale attack against American interests. And those attacks were imminent.”
On Wednesday, the downing of a commercial flight near Tehran killed all 176 people on board, including 63 Canadians. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that the flight was likely shot down by an Iranian missile.
During Friday’s press conference, Pompeo said the U.S. will wait for the results of an investigation into what happened to the Ukraine International Airlines flight before taking “appropriate actions.”
— With files from The Associated Press, Reuters