Trump Announces More Sanctions on Iran, But Potential Targets Are Limited

Pompeo says 80% of Iranian economy is under sanctions

Citing high tensions with Iran, President Trump signed an executive order imposing new sanctions against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khaemeni, as well as people “closely affiliated with him and the office.”

Trump said the sanctions were sort of related to the downing of a US drone last week, though at the same time he insisted that the exact same sanctions would’ve been imposed even if nothing had happened. He threatened further sanctions in the future.

Future sanctions are going to be no small challenge for the US, as sanctions have hit so much of the Iranian economy already that there just isn’t much left to conceivably go after. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo bragged over the weekend that “some 80-plus percent of the Iranian economy is sanctioned.”

That is why a lot of sanctions announced recently target individuals of note, and not industries. Other than very specific parts of Iran’s economy, like basic food and medicine, cannot under US law be directly sanctioned, and anything that can be sanctioned was long ago.

But even there, it’s tough to argue that anything really escapes US sanctions as it is, because US banking sanctions are so absolute that they scare off foreign companies from perfectly legal transactions, fearing the US will punish them.

The World Court has even hit the US for not ensuring that their sanctions aren’t blocking humanitarian aid into Iran. This too is a subject that has been a big deal in recent years, with US sanctions blocking certain aid during recent flooding.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of