Donald Trump puts sanctions on Iranian supreme leader, other top officials

President Donald Trump on Monday imposed new sanctions on Iran amid escalating tensions with Tehran.

"Today's actions follow a series of aggressive behaviors by the Iranian regime in recent weeks, including shooting down of USA drones", Trump said.

The order comes amid rising tensions between the USA and Iran, including last Thursday when an Iranian surface-to-air missile brought down a $100 million US surveillance drone, claiming that the unmanned aircraft was in the country's airspace.

Iran said on Tuesday new U.S. sanctions against its leaders marked the end of diplomacy with Washington, after President Donald Trump threatened the country with "obliteration".

When asked if the sanctions were retaliation over Iran shooting down an unmanned US drone, Trump said that "this was something that was going to happen anyway".

Iran's state-run IRNA news agency on Tuesday quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying that Trump's move means the end of diplomacy between the two countries.

The United States has also sought to cut off Iranian access to SWIFT, the global system of interbank transfers. "We don't think either side wants a war, but we are very concerned that we could get into an accidental war and we are doing everything we can to ratchet things down", British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said. US President Donald Trump has said he is responsible for "the hostile conduct" of Tehran towards the United States.

General Amir Ali Hajizadeh (C), Iran's Head of the Revolutionary Guard's aerospace division, looks at debris from a downed USA drone reportedly recovered within Iran's territorial waters and put on display by the Revolutionary Guard in the capital Tehran on June 21, 2019. Still, President Trump says he still believes he can be a friend to Iran and is willing to meet with no preconditions.

In May 2018, the White House reinstated all sanctions removed under a 2015 nuclear deal made with world powers which sought to prevent Iran creating its own nuclear weapon.

On Monday, Oman denied reports that it had conveyed a message from the United States to the Iranian government over the downing of the drone.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, responding to the sanctions said hawkish politicians close to Trump "despise diplomacy, and thirst for war".

In addition to the drone shoot-down, the USA has accused the Iranians of carrying out a string of mine attacks on oil tankers in the region.

Later, Trump said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone.

This comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. over its unraveling nuclear deal and as Iran last week shot down a $100million U.S. Navy surveillance drone.

He and Saudi leaders, he said, discussed the need "to promote maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz" and added that "freedom of navigation is paramount".

Further sanctions are due to be announced on Monday.

But the hawkish United States stance has drawn limited support among its allies in Europe, which still support a denuclearisation deal negotiated under former president Barack Obama from which Trump pulled out past year, triggering tensions. You know, some people said, "Why did you put -' You know, I was against going into Iraq for years and years".

He was speaking alongside Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Moscow's powerful security council, whose visit followed weeks of simmering tensions between Tehran and Washington in the Gulf.

  • Zachary Reyes