Biden Admin Scrambles To Impose New Penalties On Iran After Letting Weapons Sanctions Expire

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The Biden administration is rushing to impose new sanctions on Iran, the White House announced on Wednesday, after letting previous weapons sanctions expire last year.

White House National Security Council (NSC) Advisor Jake Sullivan announced Tuesday evening that the Biden administration will press new sanctions on Iran’s missile and drone program to deter Tehran from acting hostile against Israel and U.S. allies. The Biden administration allowed United Nations (UN) sanctions against Iran’s drone and missile to expire in October, despite outcry from critics and lawmakers that it would only benefit Tehran. (RELATED: ‘No Choice But To Respond’: Israel Weighs Retaliatory Options Against Iran As Biden Admin Urges Restraint)

“If they keep the cash flowing to the regime, avoid [snapping back U.N. sanctions], and allies don’t designate the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] as a terrorist organization, we will know this is more of a media stunt than a pressure track,” Richard Goldberg, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said on X Tuesday. “Always look at the chess board from Tehran’s point of view, not the Beltway’s.”

(Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – Motorists drive their vehicles past a billboard depicting named Iranian ballistic missiles in service, with text in Arabic reading “the honest [person’s] promise” and in Persian “Israel is weaker than a spider’s web”, in Valiasr Square in central Tehran on April 15, 2024. (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

The new sanctions, currently being prepared by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, are meant to penalize Iran for its attacks against Israel, according to Axios. Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles into Israel on Saturday — nearly all of which were intercepted or missed their targets — in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike in Syria that killed several high-level Iranian military operatives on Apr. 1.

“Treasury will not hesitate to work with our allies to use our sanctions authority to continue disrupting the Iranian regime’s malign and destabilizing activity,” Yellen was set to say in a press conference on Tuesday, according to a copy of her prepared remarks obtained by Axios. “The attack by Iran and its proxies underscores the importance of Treasury’s work to use our economic tools to counter Iran.”

Tehran was allowed to resume testing its drone and ballistic missile program after the Biden administration and European partners failed to “snapback” sanctions in October, letting them expire. Tehran was also allowed to resume transferring weapons technology to other nations, including Russia, which has benefitted from Iranian ballistic missiles in its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The Biden administration has been criticized for taking a concessionary stance toward Iran in a bid to try and deter the country from acting hostile to U.S. allies. Iran was allowed access to billions of dollars after the Biden administration failed to enforce oil sanctions, paid out “ransom” for six hostages in late 2023 and extended a sanctions waiver so that Tehran could have access to revenues made from Iraqi energy transactions.

The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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