The Obama administration is said to be preparing new sanctions in an attempt to cripple Iran’s ballistic missile program, following an incident in the Gulf last week in which Iran fired a missile dangerously close to a US warship.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the US Treasury Department is in the process of crafting the sanctions against individuals and companies in Iran, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates who are thought to have helped Iran develop its missile program.
US officials first threatened Iran with the new sanctions after a UN committee ruled that missile tests performed by Iran in October and November violated the terms of the nuclear deal. The Gulf incident, which occurred last week, may have spurred the US to finally impose the sanctions.
On Saturday, in what the US military called a “highly provocative” act, the Iranian navy launched several unguided rockets in close proximity to US warships and other commercial maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, with only 23 minutes’ notice of the test to the other ships.
The ships, including the USS Harry S. Truman and the FS Provence, a French frigate, were passing through the strait when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels hailed them over maritime radio and announced a live-fire exercise.
Though the fire was not directed towards the Western ships, the US immediately condemned the incident, revealing the fragility of relations between America and Iran even as Iran moves to fulfill the terms of the P5+1 nuclear agreement.
Navy Commander Kyle Raines, spokesman for the US Central Command, said in a statement, “Firing weapons so close to passing coalition ships and commercial traffic within an internationally recognized maritime traffic lane is unsafe, unprofessional and inconsistent with international maritime law.”
Senator John McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, also spoke out against the missile incident, which he said implicated the weakness of the Iran deal.
“A rush to sanctions relief threatens to embolden an increasingly aggressive Iranian regime that has no intention of normalizing relations with the West or of retreating from a malign policy intended to destabilize the Middle East,” he stated on Wednesday.