Trump announced more Iran sanctions today, and this time the administration is specifically targeting Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Secretary of the Treasury said that they would be doing the same to Foreign Minister Zarif later this week. The White House released this video of Trump’s announcement earlier:
President Trump has just signed an executive order to deny Iran's Supreme Leader and his associates access to key financial resources and support. pic.twitter.com/14qE9iUe61
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 24, 2019
The new sanctions on Khamenei will have no practical effect on his finances, but they do send a political message that kills off whatever minuscule chance of negotiating might have still existed. Obviously, designating Zarif for sanctions will be just as harmful to the prospect of talks. These moves prove that the administration is not and never has been serious about negotiating with Iran. Imposing more and more sanctions simply increases tensions and deepens mistrust, and we have to assume that this is what the administration wants.
There are a few things worth noting about Trump’s announcement. First, he gets Khamenei’s name wrong and refers to him as the Ayatollah Khomeini, who has been dead for three decades. This is the sort of amateurish screw-up that shows how unserious and poorly-informed Trump is when it comes to engaging with Iran. Second, he rattles off a list of Iranian activities, some real and some imagined, that he wants Iran to stop. That confirms that Trump is on board with the full list of Pompeo’s preposterous demands, and he is not concerned only with the nuclear issue. Trump said:
We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran until the regime abandons its dangerous activities and aspirations including the pursuit of nuclear weapons, increased enrichment of uranium, development of ballistic missiles, engagement in and support for terrorism, fueling of foreign conflicts, and belligerent acts directed against the United States and its allies.
Trump slips in the lie about nuclear weapons as part of the usual laundry list. That tells us that the president and his officials are determined to continue lying about Iran and its nuclear program to justify their destructive policy, and it tells Iran that there is nothing they can do that can possibly satisfy the administration short of total capitulation. The Trump administration has nothing but disdain for diplomacy, and this latest announcement confirms that beyond any doubt.