Trump vows to impose 'punishing' sanctions on Iran

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U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks to reporters while participating in a roundtable about ‘fair and honest pricing in healthcare’ in the Roosevelt Room at the White House January 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday promised a further ratcheting up of economic sanctions against Iran in the wake of attacks on two Iraqi military bases housing American troops.

“The United States will impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime,” Trump said in a brief White House address. The President said the additional sanctions on Iran would stay in place until the Islamic Republic “changes its behavior” toward the United States and countries in the region.

But it was not immediately clear what shape those sanctions would take. The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The military strike, which the President said caused no casualties, came days after the targeted killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, by the US.

The Trump administration has been ramping up economic penalties as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign on Tehran since the United States exited the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018.

The new announcement follows a round of sanctions imposed against the Iranian region this past September in response to attack on Saudi oil facilities, which the US blamed on Tehran.

In response, the administration imposed sanctions on two pillars of the Iranian economy: the country’s central bank and its sovereign wealth fund. The Pentagon also announced plans to deploy additional troops along the enhanced air and missile defense systems to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Those steps followed “hard hitting” sanctions imposed by the Trump administration in June following the downing of a US drone. Those punitive measures targeted Iran’s Supreme Leader, military officials and its top diplomat, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

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