After rocket attack, Trump again threatens Iran with sanctions

Trump said the sanctions would be ‘powerful’ but gave few details.

US President Donald Trump reiterated his plans put even more sanctions on Iran in a speech Wednesday.

The comments came after response to Iran struck air bases in Iraq housing US and allied troops.

“As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime,” Trump said.

“These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behaviour.”

The president added that Iran had recently seized ships in international waters, attacked a Saudi Arabian oil facility and shot down US drones.

It is unclear if the sanctions will hit Iranian shipping. The US last added the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines to its blacklist in December, but with 180 days notice. In September, it sanctioned subsidiaries of Cosco Shipping Energy Transportation for its dealings with Iran, sending tanker rates soaring.

It most recently gave companies until 4 February to wind down their dealings with the sanctioned entities.

Iran’s rocket attack, which reportedly caused no injuries, came five days after the US killed General Qassam Soleimani in an airstrike in Baghdad. Soleimani was in charge of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Qods Force and considered a national hero. Millions reportedly turned out for his funeral Monday.

The US has exerted a “maximum pressure” campaign on the Islamic republic since it dropped out of the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018. The deal saw the US lift sanctions and Iran scale back its nuclear programme.

On New Year’s Eve, state department officials told media that the US would continue the campaign in 2020, with a senior official telling reporters that “Iran’s economic problems and challenges are going to compound”.

Its economy reportedly shrunk significantly in 2019 and is in the midst of a recession.

Security sources told TradeWinds the Iranian response to Soleimani’s killing would steer clear of shipping, but both the US and UK have cautioned ships operating in the region.

Iran is not expected to close the Strait of Hormuz, as it has threatened in the past, as oil destined for ally China uses the waterway.

The Strait of Hormuz carries more than 20% of the world’s oil consumption daily, according to the US Energy Information Agency.

Source: TradeWinds