American President Donald Trump on Monday announced new sanctions on Iran. The move comes after the Iranian shoot-down of an unpiloted U.S. military airplane, or drone, last week. The measures target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other top Iranian officials.
Trump told reporters he was signing a presidential order for the sanctions. He also said the sanctions were in part in answer to the attack on the drone, but added that he would have ordered them even if that had not happened.
Trump said the supreme leader was responsible for what Trump called “the hostile conduct of the regime.”
He added that the sanctions were a “strong and proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions.”
The Trump administration wants to force Iran into having open talks on its nuclear and missile programs, as well as its activities in the region.
Tensions have risen between the two countries since last year, when Trump withdrew the U.S. from a nuclear deal with Iran and several world powers. Trump also re-ordered economic sanctions on Iran.
Last month, the United States ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil. Earlier this month, Trump blamed Iran for mine attacks on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran has denied the accusation.
Tensions rose further last Thursday when Iran shot down the American drone. Iran said the unpiloted, $130-million spy drone had flown into its airspace. The United States says its drone was flying in international airspace above the Strait of Hormuz.
The U.S. military came close to attacking several Iranian military targets in answer to Iran’s actions. However, Trump says he canceled the strikes minutes before they were to happen, because they would have killed too many people.
American media have reported that the U.S. launched cyber attacks last week even as Trump called off the air strike. The Washington Post reported on Saturday that the cyber strikes, which had been planned earlier, had disabled Iranian rocket launch systems. U.S. officials have not offered comments on the issue.
Iran dismissed the cyber attacks as a failure.
Allies of the United States have been calling for steps to decrease tensions, saying they fear a small mistake by either side could lead to war.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said, “We don’t think either side wants a war, but we are very concerned that we could get into an accidental war…”
Also this week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the Middle East to discuss Iran with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. On Monday, Pompeo met King Salman as well as the king’s son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Pompeo wrote on Twitter that he had a “productive meeting” with the king. He said they discussed “heightened tensions in the region and the need to promote maritime security” in the Strait of Hormuz, through which one-fifth of the world’s traded oil passes.
I’m Ashley Thompson.
Reuters reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for VOA Learning English, with additional materials from the Associated Press and VOA News. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
sanction - n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country, etc. — usually plural
conduct - n. the way that something is managed or directed
proportionate - adj. having a size, number, or amount that is directly related to or appropriate for something
response - n. something that is done as a reaction to something else
provocative - adj. causing anger or another strong reaction, especially on purpose
region - n. a part of a country, of the world, etc., that is different or separate from other parts in some way
cyber - adj. relating to a computer