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Trump Imposes New Sanctions On Iran

President Donald Trump listens to a reporter's question after signing an executive order to increase sanctions on Iran, in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, June 24, 2019, in Washington. Trump is accompanied by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, left, and Vice President

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed a new executive order to impose "hard hitting" sanctions on Iran, including on the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as tensions between the two countries heat up.

"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said as he signed the order in the Oval Office on June 24 alongside Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Trump said the United States “will continue to increase pressure” on Iran and that "never can Iran have a nuclear weapon."

"We do not ask for conflict," he pointed out, adding that depending on Iran's response the sanctions could end tomorrow -- or it "can also be years from now."

After Trump signed the executive order, the Treasury Department said it was imposing sanctions on eight military commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps.

"These commanders sit atop a bureaucracy that supervises the IRGC’s malicious regional activities, including its provocative ballistic missile program, harassment and sabotage of commercial vessels in international waters, and its destabilizing presence in Syria," the statement said.

The new sanctions will lock up billions of dollars in Iranian assets, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

The fresh round of sanctions comes just four days after Iran destroyed a U.S. military drone.

Iran said the drone was shot down over its territory while Washington said it occurred in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.

Trump first said the new sanctions were retaliation for the drone, but then later said the United States was going to impose new sanctions in any case.

The drone incident nearly sparked a U.S. military response. Trump said on June 21 that he came within minutes of executing strikes against Iran in retaliation for the downing of the drone.

His administration has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Tehran since last year, when Washington withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to curb the country’s nuclear program in exchange for easing of sanctions.

Earlier this month, the administration imposed sanctions on Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company and its subsidiaries, which control 40 percent of the nation’s petrochemical production capacity and half of its petrochemical exports.

Overall, Trump has imposed sanctions on more than 900 Iranian individuals and companies, squeezing the country financially.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa, AFP