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Trump orders 'hard-hitting' financial sanctions on Iran's supreme leader

Tensions between the two nations have been escalating in recent days.

President Donald Trump signs an executive order to increase sanctions on Iran, in the Oval Office of the White House.
President Donald Trump signs an executive order to increase sanctions on Iran, in the Oval Office of the White House.
Image: Alex Brandon via PA

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP ordered “hard-hitting” financial sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, holding him “ultimately responsible” for the Islamic republic’s “destabilising activities”.

“We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran,” Trump said as he signed the order in the Oval Office. “Never can Iran have a nuclear weapon.”

“We do not ask for conflict,” he said, adding that depending on Iran’s response the sanctions could end tomorrow — or it “can also be years from now.”

Tensions have flared after Iranian forces shot down a US drone on Thursday, the latest in a series of incidents including attacks on tankers in sensitive Gulf waters that have raised fears of an unintended slide towards conflict.

Both the US and Iran have repeatedly said they want to avoid going to war, but the spiralling tensions saw US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travel today to meet with Saudi leaders to build a “global coalition” against the Islamic republic.

Tehran says the drone violated Iranian airspace and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has backed the claim with maps and coordinates — allegations dismissed by Washington.

Pompeo flew to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to meet their leaders days after Iran shot down a US spy drone, prompting President Donald Trump to order and then cancel a retaliatory strike.

In a joint statement, the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates renewed concern about Iran including over alleged attacks on oil tankers but held out hope for talks.

“We call on Iran to halt any further actions which threaten regional stability, and urge diplomatic solutions to de-escalate tensions,” said the statement released by the United States on Monday.

Trump has said he wants negotiations with Iran, which has replied that he is insincere after walking away from an earlier denuclearisation deal and slapping punishing sanctions.

 - © AFP 2019.

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