ADDS DETAILS THROUGHOUT; UPDATES HEADLINE TO REFLECT CENTRAL BANK DESIGNATION
By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – The U.S. is imposing sanctions on Iran's central bank, President Donald Trump announced Friday.
It is a move he hailed as striking right at the core of Iran's financial institutions in retaliation for last weekend’s attacks on key Saudi oil sites.
They are the "highest sanctions ever imposed on a country," he told reporters in the Oval Office while hosting Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. They go "right to the top." Trump said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, also addressing reporters in the Oval Office, said the sanctions will result in "no more funds going to" the Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and will sever Iran's ability to gain access to international funds.
"We've now cut off all sources of funds to Iran," he said.
A Treasury statement said the economic penalties target the Central Bank of Iran in addition to its national sovereign wealth fund, and Etemad Tejarate Pars Co.
The agency accused Iran's sovereign wealth fund of being "a major source of foreign currency and funding for" the guards corps' elite external operations branch, as well as Iran's defense ministry.
Etemad Tejarate Pars, the Treasury further alleged, is a company based in Iran that has been used to conceal the ministry's arms purchases.
Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury's top terrorism official, said that by imposing the sanctions the U.S. is "putting governments on notice that they are risking the integrity of their financial systems by continuing to work with the Iranian regime’s arm of terror finance, its Central Bank."
“We will vigorously enforce our sanctions to cut off the Iranian regime’s funding of global terrorism and its domestic oppression of the Iranian people, who are the regime’s longest suffering victims," he said.
The department noted, however, that it will continue consider exemptions requests to conduct trade with Iran for the sale of humanitarian goods, including agricultural commodities, food, medicine and medical devices.
The blacklistings follow attacks on the Kingdom’s facilities that hobbled its oil output.
Yemen's Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the U.S. has increasingly been pointing the finger at Tehran for the strikes on Saudi Aramco facilities.