On Thursday, unnamed sources told Reuters that the Trump administration will announce a new set of sanctions against various Iranian entities as early as Friday.
The sanctions — reportedly targeted at over two dozen Iranian institutions and individuals — are crafted in such a way that they will not violate the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran, the U.S., and six other world powers, the sources claimed.
The sanctions would be implemented under existing executive orders covering terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
The White House declined to comment on the report.
If true, the sanctions would be yet another step in this week’s dangerously escalating tensions between the two countries.
In a tweet fired off at 3:30 a.m., Thursday morning, Trump said Iran "has been formally put on notice" for performing a missile test this past Sunday. Later in the day, Trump said that "nothing was off the table" — a phrase which has been used by previous administrations when referring to military interventions — when it comes to responding to the test.
During a news conference on Thursday, White House spokesperson Sean Spicer falsely claimed that Iran had attacked a U.S. Navy vessel in the Persian Gulf. Only after prompting by a reporter did he correct himself saying that the attack was on a Saudi Arabian vessel. In fact, the attack on the Saudi ship was launched by Houthi rebels who are currently fighting Saudi Arabia’s invasion of Yemen.
Iran: The New China?
In response to the comments by both Trump and his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn — who Wednesday said that the Iranian test put "American lives at risk" — Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said his country was not intimidated by "useless" threats by "an inexperienced person."
A spokesperson for Tehran said that the missile launches Sunday were for "defensive" purposes and that they did not need permission to carry out such tests. Ali Akbar Velayati suggested that the Trump administration should consider U.S. failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria before issuing more threats to the Muslim world, according to CNN.
Earlier this week Iran announced that it would impose "reciprocal measures" in response to Trump’s "Muslim ban" executive order issued last Friday, which targets Iran and six other Muslim majority countries.
Throughout his campaign, Trump was highly critical of the landmark nuclear deal in 2015, which saw Iran agreeing to scale back its reported efforts to obtain nuclear weapons in return for the ending of decades-old U.S. economic sanctions.
Llama Time: US and Iran