President Donald Trump announced new sanctions against Iran Monday in part to retaliate after the downing of a US drone last week, with the punitive measures targeting Iran's most senior leader, military officials and its top diplomat, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said he signed an executive order imposing "hard hitting" sanctions on Iran that will deny Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his office "and many others" access to financial instruments.
"Today's actions follow a series of aggressive behaviors by the Iranian regime in recent weeks, including shooting down of US drones," Trump said, flanked by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Vice President Mike Pence. "The supreme leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible of the hostile conduct of the regime. He's respected within his country. His office oversees the regime's most brutal instruments including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps."
Mnuchin told reporters in a briefing after Trump's announcement that "these sanctions are all very important for recent activities. The President has also instructed me that we will be designating Zarif later this week."
Trump said the sanctions "will deny the supreme leader and the supreme leaders office and those closely affiliated with him and the office access to key financial resources and support. The assets of Ayatollah Khomeini will not be spared from the sanctions."
Mnuchin said they would "lock up literally billions of dollars of assets."
While Trump called the sanctions a "strong and proportionate response," neither he nor Mnuchin would offer exact details about what the retaliation was for. Trump said, "this was something that was going to happen anyway."
Mnuchin said "some of this was in the works, some of this was a result of recent activities. I'm not going to identify which is which."