The US slapped new sanctions on Iran on Wednesday, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement defending the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign where he boasted about the damage it has done to Iran’s economy.
“The Maximum Pressure campaign against the Iranian regime continues to be extraordinarily effective,” Pompeo said. “Today, Iran’s economy faces a currency crisis, mounting public debt, and rising inflation. Prior to the Maximum Pressure campaign, Iran was exporting nearly 2.5 million barrels of oil per day. Now it struggles to export even a quarter of that volume.”
Pompeo warned against lifting the sanctions, a clear message to the incoming Biden administration. The diplomat closed his statement promising additional sanctions. “Throughout the coming weeks and months, we will impose new sanctions on Iran,” he said.
The new sanctions announced on Wednesday target what the Treasury Department calls a “key patronage network” for Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The measures blacklisted a foundation said to be controlled by Khamenei. The sanctions also targeted Iran’s intelligence minister over alleged human rights abuses during anti-government protests last year.
The new sanctions and Pompeo’s comments seem to confirm earlier reports that said the US is planning a flood of sanctions on Iran before Biden is inaugurated on January 20th. The idea is to make it difficult for Biden to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal, something the former vice president said he plans to do.
US officials insist the sanctions have exemptions for humanitarian goods, but wrecking a country’s economy will always have a devastating effect on its civilian population. A recent report from Middle East Eye documented how a round of sanctions the US added in October was choking Iran’s insulin supply.