U.S. reportedly preparing first post–nuclear deal sanctions against Iran

An Iranian missile passes in front of a photo of the ayatollah
(Image credit: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, the Obama administration provided Congress with a draft of new sanctions it intends to levy against five Iranians and several businesses and individuals outside Iran as punishment for Iran's ballistic missile tests in October and November. The sanctions, prepared amid rising tensions between Iran and the U.S., are the first to be issued by the U.S. since it and five other nations signed a deal with Iran to defang Tehran's nuclear weapons ambitions. The United Nations has banned Iran from developing and testing ballistic missiles, which experts say are useful only for delivering nuclear warheads; Iran insists its ballistic missiles are only for defensive purposes.

"We've been looking for some time ‎at options for additional actions related to Iran's ballistic missile program based on our continued concerns about its activities, including the October 10th launch," a senior U.S. official told The Wall Street Journal late Wednesday. The sanctions are seen in part as a response to critics in the U.S., Israel, and Saudi Arabia who accuse Obama of forgiving Iran's transgressions to save the nuclear deal. It's not clear how Iran will respond to the sanctions or how they will affect national elections scheduled for February.

Along with the five individuals at Iran's Ministry of Defense for Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) and its subsidiaries, the sanctions are expected to target Dubai businessman Hossein Pournaghshband, his company, and its Hong Kong subsidiary. The amount of money involved is much smaller than the $100 billion Iran will gain access to when the nuclear deal takes effect, as soon as January.

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