Iran denounces new U.S. sanctions, adds some of its own

Iran struck back against new Trump administration sanctions against its ballistic missile program, calling them illegal and announcing sanctions of its own.

In a tit-for-tat move, Iran sanctioned seven entities and two individuals on Thursday, including Horacio Rozanski, chief executive officer of Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp., alleging human rights violations because the management consulting firm does work in Israel, a U.S. ally that Iran calls an oppressor of Palestinians. Kimberly West, a spokeswoman for Booz Allen, said the company had no comment.

The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it would continue waiving sanctions — including restrictions on oil sales — eased under the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program. But the Treasury Department added some new sanctions aimed at Iran’s program to develop ballistic missiles, while the State Department condemned Tehran’s human rights record and its support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The latest row comes as Iranians prepare to vote Friday in the country’s presidential election, which pits moderate incumbent Hassan Rouhani, who helped orchestrate the nuclear agreement, against Ebrahim Raisi, who has the backing of Iranian hard-liners. Rouhani’s opponents have targeted the nuclear accord, saying he has failed to deliver on promises that the agreement would bring a boom in foreign investment and an improvement in living standards.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday that the Islamic Republic’s efforts to strengthen its military capabilities, including ballistic missiles, aren’t a violation of the deal with the U.S. and five other world powers. The agreement had language discouraging ballistic missiles but not explicitly barring them.

The new sanctions against U.S. companies — including Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. and DynCorp International Inc. — are mostly symbolic because the companies are barred from dealing with Iran because they have U.S. defense contracts.

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SOURCE: Kambiz Foroohar and Nick Wadhams
Bloomberg