US President Donald Trump hassigned an executive order which imposed hard-hitting new sanctions on Iran, including on the office of the country’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Trump said the United States does not seek conflict with Iran but will continue to increase pressure on its Middle East adversary to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons and supporting armed groups.
The US president added that today’s action follows a series of aggressions by Iran, including last week’s downing of a US unmanned drone. Iran said on Thursday it downed the unmanned aircraft in Iranian airspace. The US said the drone was in international territory when it was hit by a surface-to-air missile. The escalation prompted fears of an open military conflict between the two countries.
However, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Mr Trump’s executive order – which would lock up “billions” of dollars in Iranian assets – was in the works before Tehran shot down the US drone in the Gulf last week.