US to hit Iran with new sanctions in ‘coming day’, says Yellen

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024

WASHINGTON: US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday warned that the US intends to hit Iran with new sanctions in coming days over its unprecedented attack on Israel, and these actions could seek to reduce Iran’s capacity to export oil.

“With respect to sanctions, I fully expect that we will take additional sanctions action against Iran in the coming days,” Yellen said told a news conference on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings in Washington.

“We don’t preview our sanctions tools. But in discussions I’ve had, all options to disrupt terrorist financing of Iran continue to be on the table,” Yellen added.

She said that the Treasury and State Department have taken previous action to contain Iran’s “destabilising” behaviour by diminishing its ability to export oil.

“Clearly, Iran is continuing to export some oil. There may be more that we could do. I don’t want to preview our actual sanctions activities, but certainly that remains in focus as a possible area that we could address.”

Treasury was working to enlist the aid of China, G7 partners and other major global suppliers to erode Iran’s ability to continue to export oil and to get the microelectronics needed for the drones it used to attack Israel and was selling to Russia, a senior Treasury official told reporters.

The official said a jump in oil prices had been driven mainly by geopolitical uncertainty, not US sanctions, and noted that past sanctions had not led to oil price increases.

“We’re going to have conversations with all major suppliers around the world. That includes countries in the G7; that includes China. All of these countries have to play a role in constraining Iran’s ability to get access to the goods they are using to build weapons,” the official said.

In prepared remarks, Yellen said Iran’s attack on Israel last weekend and its financing of groups in Gaza, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq threatened stability in the Middle East and could cause economic spillovers.

The United States is using financial sanctions to isolate Iran and disrupt its ability to fund proxy groups and support Russia’s war in Ukraine, Yellen said.

Treasury has targeted more than 500 individuals and entities connected to terrorism and terrorist financing by the Iranian regime and its proxies since the start of the Biden administration in January 2021, Yellen said.

That has included targeting Iran’s drone and missile programs and its financing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Iraqi militia groups, she said.

“From this weekend’s attack to the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, Iran’s actions threaten the region’s stability and could cause economic spillovers,” Yellen said, without giving details.