WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Friday announced new sanctions on Iran that he said were the toughest-ever against another country but indicated he did not plan a military strike, calling restraint a sign of strength.
The Treasury Department renewed action against Iran´s central bank
after US officials said that Tehran carried out weekend attacks on rival Saudi Arabia´s oil infrastructure,
which triggered a spike in global crude prices.
“We have just sanctioned the Iranian national bank,”
Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
“These are the highest sanctions ever imposed on a country.”
But Trump indicated he did not plan a military response,
attacking both critics who thought the mogul turned president would trigger war and hawks seeking a military response.
“The easiest thing I could do (is) knock out 15 different major things in Iran,” Trump said.
“I could do it right here in front of you. And that would be it. And then you would have a nice, big story to report,” he said.
“But I think the strong-person approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint,” he said.
“Much easier to do it the other way. It´s much easier.
And Iran knows if they misbehave, they´re on borrowed time,” he said.
– New ground for sanctions –
The United States already maintains sweeping sanctions on
Iran including on its central bank, with anyone who deals with it subject to prosecution,
due to Tehran´s alleged nuclear program.
But the Treasury Department said that
it was imposing sanctions for the additional reason of “terrorism,”
saying the central bank had provided “billions of dollars” to two groups blacklisted by the United States.
Such a designation may be more difficult to lift,
even if Trump loses next year´s election.