WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- The United States plans to sanction Iran’s defensive drones and guided missiles program, six months after the Biden administration promised to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal and remove anti-Iran sanctions, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Citing unnamed U.S. officials, the paper said the sanctions were aimed at disrupting the development of Iran’s weapons program.
“It’s part of a comprehensive approach so we’re dealing with all aspects of the Iranian threat,” a senior U.S. official told the newspaper.
While the U.S. has already imposed sanctions against some aspects of Iran’s missile program, the new sanctions, according to the officials, would specifically target groups that provide parts used to build drones and missiles and other weapons supply networks.
Another U.S. official said, “Iran’s drones are becoming an increasing threat to our allies in the region.”
The officials said that the sanctions are separate from the Biden administration’s bid to leave many sanctions imposed by his predecessor on Tehran intact as leverage in new negotiations to return Washington to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.
The Islamic Republic has maintained that the U.S. must remove all of the sanctions it imposed on Tehran in order to revive the landmark deal, officially called the JCPOA.
Tehran has also firmly rejected the notion of talks on a new deal, asserting that it will never negotiate on its defense capabilities.
The Journal reported last week that the Biden administration was considering new sanctions on Iran’s oil sales to China if the ongoing talks in Vienna over the JCPOA’s revival failed.
The potential sanctions would target the shipping network that includes one million barrels of oil a day, the newspaper reported, citing U.S. officials and people familiar with the matter.
Negotiations for the U.S. to rejoin the JCPOA, from which Washington withdrew under the Donald Trump administration, have stalled.
Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s lead negotiator at the Vienna talks, said earlier this month that the talks must await Iran’s new administration, which will be in power in early August.
So far, six rounds of negotiations have been held in Vienna, three years after the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA, and unleashed what it called the “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.
The talks have not led to a tangible outcome so far, with the Biden administration continuing Trump’s maximum pressure policy on Iran and refusing to remove the illegal sanctions that the hawkish former administration imposed on the Islamic Republic.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif on Friday censured the United States and E3 or the three European parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal over their “ill-intention” with regard to Iran and trying to blackmail Iran into renegotiating the deal.
“The U.S. and E3 have been transparent about their transgressions and have repeatedly stated their ill-intention to compel Iran to renegotiate [the JCPOA] provisions through economic pressure and blackmail,” Zarif said in a letter to UN Secretary General António Guterres.
He noted that his experience as Iran’s foreign minister shows that Western powers find it beneath them to engage on equal footing with middle-income countries, let alone developing nations.
According to Zarif, while Iran fully complied with its obligations under the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Western countries only paid lip service to their contractual obligations.
He also pointed to the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA in 2018 under former president Donald Trump, saying after the withdrawal the U.S. and E3 believed that they could reap the fruits of their poisonous tree and resume their old habit of “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.”
“The Biden administration—again, aided and abetted by the E3—has since its inauguration in January 2021 continued Trump’s economic terrorism against Iranians as supposed ‘leverage’ to achieve the same objectives,” Zarif wrote.
For their part, the chief Iranian diplomat continued, the EU/E3 remained politically committed to the JCPOA and initially took a measured and mild diplomatic stance against the unlawful U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA and its re-imposition of sanctions.
“However, as it became gradually clear to the EU/E3 that they were incapable of performing their own obligations under the JCPOA and commitments undertaken following the U.S.’s withdrawal at the highest level, they sought to conceal their multiple cases of significant non-performance by calling for a “Trump deal,” in clear violation of Paragraphs 28 and 29 of the JCPOA, and Operative Paragraph 2 of UNSCR 2231 (2015),” he added.
Elsewhere in his letter, Zarif said the Iranian government and people have made enormous sacrifices to preserve the JCPOA in spite of U.S. contempt for it and EU/E3 complacency in the face of that contempt.
“As history has shown, the Iranian people have throughout the course of their millennia-old and glorious civilization triumphed over intimidation, coercion or extortion,” he stated.
Zarif added, “At the same time, today, the Islamic Republic of Iran remains prepared to reciprocally contribute to serious efforts to revive the full implementation of the JCPOA by all in an atmosphere of good faith, equal footing and mutual respect.”