A day after many of the sanctions on Iran were lifted as part of the international nuclear deal, the U.S. Treasury department imposed new sanctions over a recent ballistic missile test. The move, which affects 11 entities and individuals, was seen as a clear message from the White House that just because it had lifted the broadest sanctions, it was still keeping a close eye on what Tehran does.
"This action is consistent with the U.S. government's commitment to continue targeting those who assist in Iran's efforts to procure items for its ballistic missile program," the Treasury said in a statement.
The sanctions, which were ready to be announced for weeks, were only unveiled after a plane carrying three Americans released by Iran finally left Tehran on Sunday. Those on the plane were Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, Saeed Abedini, a pastor from Idaho, and former Marine Amir Hekmati from Michigan. They all landed in Germany safely later in the day after a brief stopover in Switzerland.
Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari, the other American who was freed as part of the prisoner deal, did not fly out with the others for unspecified reasons. “We can confirm that our detained U.S. citizens have been released and that those who wished to depart Iran have left,” a senior administration official said. A fifth American, student Matthew Trevithick, who was released separately, appears to have left Iran before the others.
Even though the latest sanctions may make it seem as though the White House was going back on its word, “they are actually near comparable,” notes the New York Times. The paper explains:
The action taken Saturday allowed Iran to re-enter the world’s oil markets; according to some estimates, by the end of the year its exports may increase by a million barrels a day, yielding roughly $30 million a day in revenue at current prices. Its ships will be able to enter and leave foreign ports, and its people will have access to global financial markets. With a few strokes of a pen, Mr. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry released more than $100 billion in frozen funds, mostly from past oil sales.
The new sanctions are mostly aimed at individuals and some small companies accused of shipping crucial technologies to Iran, including carbon fiber and missile parts that can survive re-entry forces. The sanctions are so focused on those individuals and firms that most Iranians will never feel them, and the amounts are comparatively tiny.