Fri Feb 3, 2017 3:27PM
Trump advisor Steve Bannon (L) watches as US President Donald Trump greets Elon Musk, SpaceX and Tesla CEO, before a policy and strategy forum with executives in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 3, 2017 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by AFP)
Trump advisor Steve Bannon (L) watches as US President Donald Trump greets Elon Musk, SpaceX and Tesla CEO, before a policy and strategy forum with executives in the State Dining Room of the White House on February 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

The administration of US President Donald Trump has imposed new sanctions on multiple Iranian individuals and entities to ratchet up pressure on Iran over its missile defense program.

"The Trump Administration will no longer tolerate Iran's provocations that threaten our interests," US National Security Advisor Michael Flynn said on Friday.

"The days of turning a blind eye to Iran's hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over," Flynn said in a White House statement.

The US Treasury Department said in a statement on Friday that it has published a list of 13 Iranian figures and 12 entities facing new sanctions.

According to the statement, the entities include companies based in Tehran, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and China.

Senior US administration officials told Reuters that sanctions imposed against Iran were only the "initial steps in response to Iranian provocative behavior."

"Today's action is part of Treasury's ongoing efforts to counter Iranian malign activity abroad that is outside the scope of the JCPOA," the Treasury said in the statement, referring to the Iran nuclear deal reached between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 group of countries, including Washington, in 2015.

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Britain, Russia, China, France as well as Germany – reached a landmark nuclear agreement last year, under which Tehran agreed to limit some aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions. The two sides began implementing the deal, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on January 16.

The new sanctions came a day after President Trump said "nothing is off the table" in terms of a response to Iran's latest ballistic missile test.

Trump also said on Thursday that the White House has formally put Tehran "on notice" over its missile test.

“Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!” Trump tweeted, echoing his national security adviser’s comments a day earlier.

On Friday morning, Trump accused Iran of “playing with fire.”

"Iran is playing with fire -- they don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!," Trump tweeted.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran is “unmoved” by the Trump administration’s threats and only relies on its own defense means.

“Iran is unmoved by threats as we derive security from our people,” Zarif said in a post on his Twitter account on Friday.

“We will never initiate war, but we can only rely on our own means of defense,” the foreign minister pointed out.

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Washington has said Sunday’s ballistic missile test was in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries.

Tehran insists its missile tests do not breach any UN resolution because they are solely for defense purposes and not designed to carry nuclear warheads.

Arms control experts have also said that Iran’s missile tests are not banned under the nuclear agreement and the Security Council resolution, because Iran's missiles are not meant to deliver nuclear warheads.

'New sanctions in pipeline before Trump'

The White House said on Friday that the Iran sanctions were "in the pipeline" before Trump was sworn in as president on January 20, but were activated in light of recent events,

"These kinds of sanctions don't happen quickly but I think the timing of them was clearly in reaction to what we've seen over the last couple days," White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters.

We knew we had these options available to us because they had been worked through the process ... They were in the pipeline," he added.