The United States is reportedly planning a sanctions campaign against Iran’s defensive drones and guided missiles program, six months after the administration of Joe Biden, who had promised to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal and remove anti-Iran sanctions, assumed office.
The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed US officials, said the sanctions were aimed at disrupting the development of Iran’s weapons program.
“It’s part of a comprehensive approach so we’re dealing with all aspects of the Iranian threat,” a senior US official told the newspaper.
While the US has already imposed sanctions against some aspects of Iran’s missile program, the new sanctions, according to the officials, would specifically target groups that provide parts used to build drones and missiles and other weapons supply networks.
Another US official said, “Iran’s drones are becoming an increasing threat to our allies in the region.”
The officials said that the sanctions are separate from the Biden administration’s bid to leave many sanctions imposed by his predecessor on Tehran intact as a leverage in new negotiations to return Washington to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.
The Islamic Republic has maintained that the US must remove all of the sanctions it imposed on Tehran in order to revive the landmark deal, officially called the JCPOA.
Tehran has also firmly rejected the notion of talks on a new deal, asserting that it will never negotiate on its defense capabilities.
The Journal reported last week that the Biden administration was considering new sanctions on Iran’s oil sales to China if the ongoing talks in Vienna over the JCPOA’s revival failed.
The potential sanctions would target the shipping network that includes one million barrels of oil a day, the newspaper reported, citing US officials and people familiar with the matter.
Negotiations for the US to rejoin the JCPOA, from which Washington withdrew under the Donald Trump administration, have stalled.
Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s lead negotiator at the Vienna talks, said earlier this month that the talks must await Iran’s new administration, which will be in power in early August.
So far, six rounds of negotiations have been held in Vienna, three years after the US unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA, and unleashed what it called the “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.
The talks have not led to a tangible outcome so far, with the Biden administration continuing Trump’s maximum pressure policy on Iran and refusing to remove the illegal sanctions that the hawkish former administration imposed on the Islamic Republic.
In remarks on Wednesday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the Americans have insisted on their hostile stance against Iran and not moved even one step forward during the talks.
“The Americans say and promise that ‘we will remove the sanctions’ but they have failed to do so,” said the Leader.
He also said the US wants to add a new clause to the agreement demanding that Iran begin talks on other issues.
By adding such a clause, according to Ayatollah Khamenei, the Americans are seeking to gain an excuse for further meddlesome acts regarding the JCPOA, Iran’s missile program and regional issues.
“And if Iran refuses to talk about [those issues], they would say ‘you have violated the JCPOA and therefore there won't be an agreement anymore,’” the Leader added.